Health Tourism; Stimulating The Pan African Economy

South Africa has a history of excellence in health care and health care innovation, having been at the cutting edge of some of the world most renowned procedures. Over the years the country has emerged as a serious contender in Health Tourism industry, which is one of the fastest growing globally. However, Health Tourism in South Africa and the rest of the continent is relatively new and not properly organised, hence the need to create a platform for open discussion on its current state.

Health Tourism is traveling, usually abroad, for the express purpose of seeking specific medical treatment for an existing illness or in search of overall wellbeing, be it physical, mental or social in order to maintain or revive oneself. Pan African Health Tourism industry is poised for significant growth with South Africa in particular, being well positioned to play a significant role within this global industry given its pioneering role in the medical field, highly trained doctors, excellent medical care supported by world class facilities along with one of the world’s fastest growing tourism industries in the world.

The global Health Tourism industry is valued at $20 billion per year, with nearly 7 million patients annually traveling to different regions across the world to seek health care. South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Mauritius have emerged as the clear leaders in the continent with South Africa gaining a reputation as a destination of choice. Furthermore, South Africa, alongside other African countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana have a sophisticated, well developed and organised tourism industry which competes comfortably with some of the best tourism destinations in the world especially regarding the provision of recuperation facilities.

With the above in mind, the opportunities for Health Tourism on the African continent are vast. It is necessary to create a Pan African platform for engagement and sharing of ideas amongst all the parties in the industry value chain as well as amongst African countries who can benefit from a coordinated industry approach.

A coordinated approach to the industry will address some of the key challenges, which include:

  • A highly fragmented industry driven largely by non-health care practitioners.
  • The lack of coordinated and formalization of the industry, which can assist in educating the market, and appropriately marketing the opportunities provided by this industry.
  • Coordinating the seamless provision of services from the health to the tourism industry to give a seamless and stress free experience for visitors.
  • Addressing the ever pressing issue of immigration concerns especially with regards to visas.
  • Harness and coordinate other related services such as medical insurance.

Industry Facts

  • The South African medical tourism market was valued at R123 million (+/-US $15 375 million) in 2003 from 8000 patients, largely from the SADC region;
  • By the end of 2006, it is envisaged that the South African market value will have escalated to R270 231 000  (+/-US $34 million);
  • According to the Mckinsey study commissioned in India, this industry is growing at an impressive 30% per annum globally;
  • South Africa’s private healthcare was ranked 4th in the world in 2004.


Keynote Message

The Congress makes the point of bringing together the de facto leaders of the 8 Health Tourism Segments, the Sector-supporting Industries and Government to “thrash out” the most pressing and challenging issues facing the Health Tourism Sector – with regards to Knowledge, Policy and Strategy.

The ht8 Approach

“Health Tourism” is the collective term for health-related services involving some travel. Furthermore, these services logically fall under 8 Segments or groupings (hence “ht8”). ht8 is all about creating an expanded industry to address a broader market. With the ht8 approach to Health Tourism Segmentation, Administration, Integration, Development and Promotion, every Tourism Destination can also become a successful Health Tourism Destination – and every Tourist becomes a potential Health Tourist.


The Industries Represented

…an indicative listing

  • Health
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Tourism and Travel
  • Hospitality
  • Property and Real Estate Development
  • Insurance
  • Investment and Finance
  • Media
  • Professional Services – Consulting
  • Information and Communication Technology – Health Informatics
  • Gaming and Game Mechanics

Attendees by Designation

  • African Ministers:
    • Tourism, Health,
    • Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs,
    • Trade and Industry
    • International Relations, Etc.)
  • African Dignitaries Based In South Africa
  • Directors
  • Ministerial and Ambassadorial Delegations
  • Vice Presidents
  • Associate Vice Presidents
  • General Managers
  • Senior Level Executives
  • Senior Level Managers
  • Consultants in the 8 Categories of Health Tourism.