Rwanda to focus on medical tourism

In an effort to generate more tourism revenues, Rwanda is to focus on medical tourism.

The nation is looking at all options to sustain the budding tourism sector that registered high foreign exchange receipts last year, It is now planning to focus on medical tourism as another option that could further enhance its tourism earnings.

Rica Rwigamba, the head of tourism at Rwanda Development Board, said, ‘The government is courting investors to set up advanced medical facilities in the country; we believe this will help make our country a regional tourism hub.’

The official also acknowledged that the nation could become a tourism hub only if it has world-class medical facilities, which would be difficult without the participation of private entities. Hence, the nation is embarking on a campaign to attract stakeholders who can establish facilities and infrastructure in the nation to make it a medical tourism hub. Rwigamba said that medical tourism would improve the foreign exchange receipts needed to bridge the current trade deficit that the country is facing. Rwanda’s trade deficit stands at over USD1.2bn.

The head of the tourism board said, ‘Medical tourism is something that requires a different approach if one is to attract world class health investment like Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital in Kimironko, Gasabo district. It is also about wooing people to provide quality medical services at affordable rates. Rwanda is in a good location in terms of climate, the security and quiet environment, which patients need when going through the process of healing.’

The department is also looking to tap into the domestic sector because there are many instances in which locals are referred to other nations for treatment. While the treatment itself may be economical, travel-related charges could be very costly.