Medical Tourism Key Attraction of 19th Akwaaba African Travel Market

Medical Tourism Key Attraction of 19th Akwaaba African Travel Market

Chinedu Eze

Akwaaba African Travel Market is a success story in tourism and air travel in Nigeria, as it has grown to become one of the few events in the travel and tourism sector that attracts international participants, year-on-year with strong local loyalty.

Akwaaba has built enviable goodwill in the continent that awards from the events are highly priced and open doors for the recipients within and outside Africa.

The opening day of the 19th Akwaaba African Travel Market, which was held at Eko Hotel and Suits from September 3-5, 2023 could simply be tagged Cross River day because Cross River State, known as a state reputed for tourism in Nigeria, dominated the opening day. Of course, the event was opened by the Governor of Cross River state, Senator Bassey Otu and the state brought inimitable colour to the event with memorable displays by the Cross River dance troupe. The fanfare and razzmatazz that attended the opening ceremony were memorable excitement to all who attended the event.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 19th Akwaaba, the governor said: “Today, we are here to witness another theme unveiling, which stands our carnival out as an intellectual platform to entertain, educate, and inform our publics and audiences. Carnival Calabar, Africa’s Biggest Street Party  has always led the cultural interface and ties with other such great cultural and artistic brands that have evolved distinct identities as Nigeria’s best foot forward in cultural diplomacy and at the same time acting as the pull factor to bring tourists to Cross River State and Nigeria every year. Also, understand that for the second year, the Medical Tourism platform is being activated with a strong partnership with the Turkish group.”

So, Akwaaba has become a bold signature to Tourism in Africa and as travel is said to buoy tourism globally, the travel industry was not left out but the new niche that is making its mark in Africa is medical tourism.

It is well known that many Nigerians who travel abroad go for medical checkups and treatment of ailments. Now, the tourism industry is giving medical treatment and ambience of pleasure and adventure to diminish the seriousness imbedded in medical treatment and health service.

Medical tourism is described as people traveling abroad to obtain medical treatment. Countries, including African nations have established state of the art hospitals with special attention to cater for foreigners who may come for medical service but are also made to sightsee tourism destinations and bask in the euphoria of entertainment and pleasure.

The third day of Akwaaba was dedicated to medical tourism. A group of Turkish Hospitals, which comprised Medipol Global, Serena Group, Govn Health Group, Turquaz Health, Health Ankara, and Medical Park Group, all in Turkey, pledged to collaborate with Nigerian medical institutions in the country to enhance the medical sector and also meet the medical needs of the citizens.

“We are ready to cooperation in this manner. We will like to establish a bridge with Nigeria and Turkey. We are ready to provide healthcare service to African countries, starting from Nigeria,” the Turkish medical group stated.

Also, a delegation of medical experts from Ghana at the Akwaaba meeting highlighted key advantages of medical tourism. In a press statement, the Ghanaian delegation led by Dr. Kobby Appiah- Sayki, President of the African Medical Tourism Council (AMTC) and CEO of Britannia Medical Centre, presented the four core reasons why Ghana stands as a premier destination for medical tourism. Appiah-Sayki explained why Ghana is a destination for medical tourism, which include highly qualified local and internationally trained doctors.

Appiah-Sayki said: “There is good value for money. Ghana’s medical services offer exceptional value for money. Patients seeking high-quality healthcare can benefit from competitive pricing without compromising on the quality of care received. The AMTC acts as a regulatory body and it also advocates for patients.”

Appiah-Sayki emphasised that the African Medical Tourism Council plays a crucial role as a regulatory body, ensuring the highest standards of care for patients. AMTC also advocates for patients’ rights and ensures a transparent and ethical medical tourism environment.

The delegation also said that it was committed to removing all barriers to medical tourism. This includes overcoming challenges related to distance, travel, accommodation, and navigating the healthcare system.

“Ghana welcomes medical tourists with open arms and strives to make their journey as seamless as possible,” Appiah-Sayki further said.

Appiah-Sayki also highlighted the African Medical Tourism Council (AMTC) as the driving force behind a transformative journey that offers cutting-edge healthcare with the rich cultural tapestry of Africa. The Council consists of major hospitals in Ghana, including the International Maritime Hospital (IMaH), the Bank Hospital, the University of Ghana Medical Centre Ltd (UGMC) LuccaHealth, Britannia Medical Health Center Jubail Specialist Hospital and the Bethel Dental Clinic.

Ikechi Uko, the organiser and convener of the Akwaaba Africa Travel and Tourism Market in his key speech at the event, noted that Nigeria has not made strategic plan on the continuity of the travel industry to the future, observing that there is lack of young persons groomed to lead Nigeria’s travel industry in the next generation and encouraged major players in the sector to mentor people to guarantee a future of strong travel industry in Nigeria.

He also encouraged the players in the tourism industry to invest in educational and medical tourism, saying that it is the future of tourism in Nigeria.

“For a lot of countries in Africa, I asked them, please can you nominate two or three people in your country that you think are pioneers, inspirational. We gave them the terms and the conditions and our criteria. Unfortunately, most countries couldn’t nominate one person. I didn’t just ask one person, I asked like 10. And why is it that there is nobody here? ‘Oh, the young ones, I don’t think they deserve it, I don’t think they’re good enough, they’re not detailed’, everybody has complaints,” he said.

Over 30 exhibitors are present at this event, displaying different aspects of the tourism, medical, and hospitality industry.

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