According to a new analysis from London based analysts Oxford Business Group
, Morocco is beginning to emerge as an important health tourism destination for European patients, with several key advantages over its competitors such as its closeness to Western Europe, an extensive tourism infrastructure, and the prevalence of the French language.
The main growth areas are cosmetic surgery, laser eye surgery and dental tourism, particularly implants. Cosmetic surgery in Morocco, can cost between 30% and 50% less than in Europe. The country has 80 specialists and 12 cosmetic surgery clinics. 15% of the 14,500 instances of cosmetic surgery that take place annually in Morocco involve foreign patients. This would give Morocco just over 2000 medical tourists a year. Women account for 75% of foreign patients, with liposuction and breast enhancements the most frequently performed operations.
Dental tourism is also fast emerging and is attracting older patients from Francophone European countries such as France, Belgium and Switzerland, in particular, as well as Moroccan immigrants living in Europe. Dental implants are 50% cheaper in Morocco than in Western Europe.
As it expands, the health tourism segment is attracting foreign investment. Portuguese group Malo Clinic
plans to open a €24.1m clinic and surgery by the end of the year in Dar Bouazza, 20 km south of Casablanca, in cooperation with local dental surgeon Saad Zemmouri. The clinic will employ 40 specialists and include a five-star hotel and a health spa, principally targeting older retired Europeans. It will specialise in laser eye, dental and cosmetic surgery.
While rival countries Tunisia and Lebanon offer packages that include travel, accommodation and childcare for women, few Moroccan clinics offer such packages. But the closeness to Europe and the extremely low costs are a huge incentive, while Morocco is further removed from African and Middle East trouble spots than Tunisia or Lebanon, so can actually benefit from the Arab Spring uprisings.