Dubai eyeing Kenyan medical tourists

Dubai eyeing Kenyan medical tourists

World famous travel destination, Dubai, is now shifting focus to medical tourism as it seeks to drive more tourist numbers, especially in the East African region to seek its up-scaled medical services.

Stella Obinwa, Regional Director Africa for Dubai Tourism, says the gulf city has among other things increased Emirates airline daily flights to Nairobi to three.

“There’s nothing as bad as, especially during the high season, you are pushing travel to Dubai but all the seats are booked. They will be mad at the travel agents, not the airline,” opined Obinwa.

Dubai Health Authority director of health regulation Dr Leilah Mayra says most people visiting the UAE emirate on medical grounds are seeking health enhancements, anti-ageing, clinical spa, weight reduction, eye and teeth correction, knee replacement, fertility and cancer treatments.

Among the major hospitals in Dubai attracting the medical tourism numbers American Hospital, which is touted as one of best cancer treatment centers in the Middle East, Thumbay Hospital, Iranian Hospital and Zahra Hospital which mainly target gulf countries, Russian and the African market led by Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Dr Mayra said “One of the things we concentrate on is the quality of care patient receives. We have a good medical visa for all tourists who come to Dubai valid for 3 months and can be extended by three months.”

Dubai is pushing medical tourism through the Dubai Health Experience initiative, with the initiative seeking to expand the tourism portfolio of the largest and most populous city and emirate in the UAE from its traditional luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene.

“Kenyans are mostly coming for fertility, orthopedic and oncology services,” intimated Dr Mayra.

Dubai attracted 14.9 million tourists in 2016, a significant rise from 14.2 million in 2015, with Africa accounting for more than 700,000 of these numbers, an increasing number now embracing medical tourism, away from the traditional South Africa and Indian further treatment destinations.

Obinwa and Mayra were speaking during a travel stakeholders’ road show that was organized by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) at a Nairobi hotel, an initiative also providing travel agencies with a virtual experience of Dubai key tourism features to enable them create itineraries for families to better market them to their clients.

“With this programme, without travelling to Dubai you are going to have a virtual experience of what Dubai has to offer. You can then create itineraries based on family preferences. This will enable people to have a touch and feel of Dubai without even having been there and that should improve their sale,” added Obinwa.

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