Is medical travel a strategic issue for Morocco?

The Moroccan Institute of Strategic Intelligence (IMIS), a think-tank dedicated to the study of the strategic issues of Morocco, has released a policy paper on the proposed revival of medical tourism to Morocco. It suggests medical tourism to Morocco needs a revival, as it is an overlooked yet profitable industry.

The IMIS study explores the opportunities for the country to invest in this sector. It sets out a number of strategic guidelines that could help transition Morocco from an underrated player to a key destination.

Medical tourism, it says, represents a concrete opportunity to generate direct foreign exchange and contribute to the overall development of the national economy, driven by the ageing of the population in a postmodern society, coupled with improved accessibility to quality, low-cost medical services and a growing demand for procedures uncovered by insurance, such as dental reconstruction and cosmetic surgery.

The paper’s authors recommend using governmental support to build a national branding strategy as a recovery leverage to promote the image of Morocco on an international scale, using its competitive advantages such as the reputation of the country, its strategic location as well as its political stability and hospitality infrastructures.

The analysis focuses on an African alliance and developing partnerships, as well as founding a national medical tourism office, developing adapted regulatory frameworks, and upgrading digital technology to improve the country’s competitiveness.

A medical tourism promotional organisation would reinvent “Made in Morocco” as a unique experience.

The promotional body would advocate for investments in the medical and hospitality infrastructure. This will have to be supported with regulatory frameworks as well as international accreditation vouching for the quality of service.

Tourism, a key pillar of the Moroccan economy, is amongst the most affected industries by the pandemic and the economic outlook for the sector is far from positive for at least the next three years.

The destination is trying to develop medical tourism through initiatives such as the development of a healthcare complex in Marrakesh, which offers specialised medical procedures, including cardiology and radiology. Marrakech Healthcare City showcases Morocco’s will to restore faith in its medical competencies and infrastructures capabilities. The project is led by a foreign developer, and run by the private medical sector.

Morocco’s current focus for its tourism strategy is on market niche development through luxurious hospitality services merchandising “The Moroccan Experience” and the “Tales of the Arabian nights”.

Three key aspects have been identified to drive medical tourism in Morocco:

  • The intervention of the government through the promotion of a national branding strategy including reinforced alliances and investments in medical and hospitality services.
  • Digital renewal using technology.
  • Meeting the latest customers’ requirements and finding how to better prepare the country to meet them.

Most foreign patients in Morocco are of African origin, so platforms and smartphone apps will have to target neighbouring countries first in order to establish reliability.