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Wellness resort leads Egypt’s medical tourism push

Tourists at Giza, Egypt. The government is targeting annual revenue of $11.5bn in medical tourism revenues alone Creative Commons/lyng883
Tourists at Giza. The government is targeting annual revenue of $11.5bn in medical tourism revenues alone
  • $50m Naya resort to be built
  • Health tourism promotion
  • Target of $11.5bn per year

Plans for Egypt’s first wellness resort have been revealed as experts forecast an increase in the number of medical visitors to the country.

Maxim Group has signed an agreement with the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones to establish Naya Wellness Resort in Al-Saf, Giza.

About $48 million is being invested in the resort, part of Egypt’s plan to maximise tourism revenues, as economic woes continue.

Naya will span 40 acres and will include laboratories, cosmetic clinics, hotels and restaurants. It is expected to create more than 4,500 jobs once launched. 

Egypt is preparing to launch a new dedicated platform to promote health tourism, Ghada Shalaby, deputy minister of tourism and antiquities, said on Saturday.

Shalaby said that the ministry wants to strike deals with international investors to identify new medical tourism destinations.

Dr Mohamed Karar, chairman of Maxim Group, said: “The project is the first of its kind in Egypt, featuring multiple medical specialties and hosting top doctors from various countries.”

In December, Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population said it was targeting an annual revenue of $11.5 billion in medical tourism revenues, without giving a date for this to be achieved.

Egypt’s tourism revenues grew by 27 percent last year, reaching $13.6 billion. Visitor numbers are expected to double from 15 million last year to 30 million by 2028.

Based on observations from other medical tourism destinations, the number of health tourists go hand-in-hand with overall tourism volumes, said Saranya Balijepalli, director of healthcare at JLL MEA.

“Moreover, the presence of a large and thriving private healthcare market in the country will also act as a driver for medical tourism,” she told AGBI.

Egypt is a well-established destination known for its wellness and natural healing resources, such as mineral water springs and sulphur water baths. 

According to Balijepalli, continued investment, the easing of visa procedures and a highly skilled medical staff places Egypt as one of the top medical tourism destinations in the Middle East and North Africa. 

However, she said, economic challenges are a threat to the sector’s growth. High-end equipment and materials required for quality healthcare might not be easily available, and rivals such as Morocco, Turkey and South Africa are capitalising on this. 

Tourism was a rare bright spot for the Egyptian economy last year, but the impact of the Gaza conflict is expected to hit visitor numbers this year. It is the latest blow to a country that has relied heavily on inflows of short-term portfolio investment, tourism revenues and remittances to partially cover a chronic trade deficit.

Tourism bookings are reportedly in decline and cancellations have increased for the first quarter of this year.

The Naya Wellness Resort announcement is aligned with the government’s vision to transform Giza into a centre for tourism. 

Several investments, including the Grand Egyptian Museum, New Giza Avenue and the Integrated Tourism Development Project, intended to revitalise the area around the pyramids, are also in the pipeline.

Around 250 keys were added to Cairo’s hotel stock in 2023, bringing the total hotel inventory to around 28,000 keys. In 2024, more than 1,500 keys will be added.

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