May 2015 BusinessDaily; Kenya is seeking to use its top hospitals to woo medical tourists from East and Central Africa, to cushion the sector that has been hit by reduced travel from US and Europe over security fears.
The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has partnered with A&K Global Health—a global medical tourism consultancy firm —with an aim of increasing the number of foreigners visiting Kenya for treatment.
Kenya receives patients from other African countries who seek treatment for ailments such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, maternal complications and paediatric conditions at top hospitals like Nairobi Hospital, Aga Khan and Kenyatta National Hospital.
Muriithi Ndegwa, the KTB managing director said Kenya seeks to diversify its tourism products from beaches and safari parks.
“Medical tourism was always in our strategic plan. And now this partnership will allow us to pursue it aggressively,” he said.
Kenya’s tourism, once the highest foreign exchange earner, has borne the brunt of terror attacks that has prompted Western countries to issue travel alerts.
This has cut foreign tourist arrivals over the past year and led to the closure of more than 40 hotels at the Coast due to low bed occupancy. The number of international visitors dropped to 1.3 million from 1.5 million in 2013.
The medical tourists are expected to boost tourism with their stay local hotels.
“We may not be the best in the world, but we are way ahead of many African countries. So why should a patient in Rwanda travel to India for medical procedures that can comfortably be handled here?,” said Mr Ndegwa.