Morocco is far from reaching its potential in the medical tourism industry, but a national branding strategy and sufficient investments could prove worthwhile.
Rabat – Medical tourism in Morocco could generate over 300,000 additional arrivals, says the president of the Board of Moroccan Tourism Engineering Company (SMIT) Imad Berrakad.
Medical tourism is the process of traveling abroad to receive medical care. At least 20 million people across the globe travel every year to countries with advanced healthcare systems, low-cost medical treatment, or even natural resources with medical benefits, such as mineral and sulfur springs.
Morocco ranked 31st overall in the 2020-2021 Medical Tourism Index, a below-average ranking. Although private Moroccan hospitals can be appealing to foreigners, the index said visitors generally see the country’s public hospitals “as decrepit and lacking qualified doctors, medicines, and equipment.” The same source indicates that Morocco lacks an ideal cultural and political environment for potential medical tourists.
Speaking to Morocco’s state media, Berrakad said medical tourism in the country represents a “very promising” opportunity and has comparative and competitive advantages.
Berrakad explained that the development of medical tourism in Morocco requires the establishment of an adequate medical offer, specialized agencies, as well as a regulatory framework governing their activities.
He recalled Law 113-13 of February 2015, which concerns the authorizing private clinics to open to non-medical investors. The SMIT president described the law as a major achievement and a catalyst for investment in medical tourism in Morocco.
However, the professional estimates that the rise of medical tourism in Morocco requires the establishment of an ecosystem that promotes it. A medical tourism ecosystem should include doctors, incentives, professional operators, and legal guidelines, among others.
The SMIT president forecasts that this ecosystem will anchor Morocco among the top international destinations for medical tourism such as Turkey, Thailand, Egypt, India, Lebanon, and Malaysia.
The Moroccan Institute of Strategic Intelligence (IMIS) recently issued a study reporting that branding, digital transformation, and the anticipation of new markets in Morocco are key factors that will boost the country’s medical tourism industry.
Tapping this potential requires, according to IMIS, the government’s promotion of a national branding strategy and support for necessary investments in the fields of health and accommodation.
Developing medical tourism could help Morocco in its gradual economic recovery, particularly as the tourism sector, representing 11% of the country’s GDP, took a hard hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
After months of strategizing action plans and approving laws to assist the sector’s recovery, a delegation from Morocco’s National Tourism Office (ONMT) began a national tour on December 3 to meet with tourism professionals and learn about the challenges they face as the country continues to battle COVID-19.
The tour aims to help develop a well-adapted recovery plan for the sector after the COVID-19 crisis by meeting with professionals working in hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-oriented businesses.