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South Africa woos Indian tourists

Kolkata, Sept 7 (IBNS): South Africa is hard selling its destinations to Indian tourists who are in their festive moods and waiting to spend leisure in exotic holidays abroad.

After the road shows in cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and New Delhi, South African Tourism commenced their second road show in Kolkata on Thursday.

The road show was announced at a city hotel by Hanneli Slabber, who represented South Africa as the Country Manager of South African Tourism.

According to Slabber India proved to be a very important market place for the world.

The commencement of these road shows will help South Africa to popularise holiday experiences, with corporate interests, she said.

Slabber said the road shows will help bring out some new grounds of travelling which could satisfy the needs of the potential tourists with good quality of products, suppliers and trusts.

She told reporters that this year South Africa will be expecting more than one lakh tourists the country.

As per the latest statistics in May, 2012 the rate of visiting South Africa by Indians has reached 22.3% , which indicates a big leap and most of the visitors are from Delhi.

The country manager of South Africa was also very hopeful that the diplomatic relation between the two countries can be in a better position.

Presently there are no direct airways in between South Africa and India. So some future proposals also are in the talks in regard to benefit the tourists.

Slabber said South Africa is spreading out Indians their delicious vegetarian and non vegetarian food items in some 300 restaurants.

Comments (0) 09.09.2012. 17:08

High Demand for Medical Tourism by GCC Nationals

OUTLOOK — By Haider Al Lawati — The number of Arabs, especially wealthy GCC nationals, seeking medical treatment abroad is on the rise despite the existence of some of the finest hospitals in GCC states like Dubai Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Yet, patients will always seek the highest quality medical treatment no matter what the price is.

Nowadays, millions of patients around the world are looking for treatments that ease their pain or give them hope for a cure even if it requires them to travel thousands of miles and leave their homes to receive the desired medical treatment. Medical tourism has become a major source of income for some countries around the world.

It creates job opportunities for their citizens and supports tourism. In the past years, several Arab countries like UAE have started providing medical treatment for GCC nationals.

However, some foreign countries like Thailand and Malaysia, are now allocating annual budgets for medical institutions to provide scholarship for their students to study medicine in Arab countries, learn the Arabic language to easily attend to Arab patients in the future. This caused an influx of GCC nationals to those countries during the past decade, besides India in order to benefit from the medical services they offer.

Moreover, thousands of GCC nationals travel to developed countries, such as Germany, Italy, USA, Britain, etc., to get advanced medical care and treatment for different ailments.

Medical tourism facilitates receiving health and tourism services in the host country. It provides guarantees and helps reassure patients about the quality of services offered in the various treatments that they seek. In addition, the availability of medical insurance in some countries helps some patients to travel abroad for proper treatment, while the launch of nonstop flights by many airlines has played a major role in promoting medical tourism around the world.

Last but not least, advanced global communications and the Internet have made it easier for patients to finalise their travel arrangements before arriving for diagnosis and treatment in the foreign country. Today, several countries worldwide are offering advanced medical services for tourists, such as USA, Germany, Canada, Britain, Australia, part of the Middle East and East Asian countries including India, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan and others.

Generally speaking, medical tourism is a branch of tourism that involves travelling abroad for treatment and recuperation in health resorts. It also involves treatment in specialised clinics, medical centres or modern hospitals that provide state-of-the-art medical equipment and highly-qualified staff.

Therapeutic or health tourism is also available in many parts of the world. It depends on natural elements in to treat and possibly cure certain skin and bone diseases, ie, rheumatism. Patients can choose between relaxing in the mineral, sulphur and hot springs and lakes, basking in the sunshine or indulging in the sands of Indonesia, Jordan and many other countries.

The Sultanate is blessed with such natural elements and can be utilised in attracting those who seek health tourism. Furthermore, there are clinics specialising in the treatment of drug addiction and mental illnesses where patients can be admitted for as long as it takes for them to receive the necessary treatment.

These facilities spurred an influx of patients from GCC countries to travel to these countries to receive various medical treatments. Although some countries do not announce annual statistics on the number of arrivals for tourism and medical treatment from GCC countries, others publish information on the number of patients flocking for medical tourism.

In Germany, for instance, official statistics show that about 77,000 patients from 178 countries received treatment in Germany in 2010. These statistics also confirm that the healthcare system in Germany ranks second in Europe and is considered one of the most regulated, advanced and innovative systems in the world due to the unique cooperation between science, research, industry and hospitals along with the availability of strong infrastructure, highly-qualified staff and advanced medical technology. To make the most of these facilities, German institutions are making the effort to support their promotional campaigns in GCC and other countries to support medical tourism.

Overall, the increase in patients flocking from around the world to countries that offer high quality medical tourism is attributed to several factors, including their global competitiveness in the medical field and excellence in technology and biomedical engineering. Moreover, these countries have the best universities, science centres, medical laboratories and university hospitals, not to mention a strong medical infrastructure able to handle patients who wish to stay for prolonged periods for treatment.

Therefore, patients who can afford medical treatment in these countries and may wish to avail the services of medical tourism arrive with the hope of receiving top quality healthcare at the hands of experienced physicians, not medical students or trainees. Patients also seek clinics that strictly adhere to medical ethics and are transparent and honest in providing information on the required treatments to avoid distress and confusion. Some patients complain of some clinics and hospitals taking advantage of their financial situation by ordering unnecessary and expensive checkups and X-rays.

Such complaints often come from different countries to which GCC nationals often travel. It is essential that officials at those health centres put these points in a booklet or a brochure and distribute it to patients in the first visit to the doctor to enable them to make the right decisions regarding their required treatment.

Dubai itself is striving to promote its Medical tourism to attract people from all over the world to come to Dubai and enjoy the luxuries or desert safaris and get their treatment as well

Comments (0) 09.09.2012. 16:22

India aims at 1 per cent global tourist arrivals by 2017

PANAJI: The country aims to attract one percent of the global tourist arrivals by the end of 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017) from the current 0.58 percent, Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai has said.

"We aim to increase the number of global tourist arrivals in the country to one percent, which will create a lot of employment opportunities," Sahai said, addressing the annual Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FH&RAI) conference here yesterday.

Last year, 6.29 million foreign tourists came to India, which resulted in earning of $16.56 billion of foreign exchange. Majority of them were from Western Europe and US.

The Minister also said he would push for `infra' status for the tourism sector.

The hospitality/tourism sector is demanding the infrastructure status, which can facilitate loans at lower rates with various tax concessions.

"Infra status will provide us the impetus to grow, which (the sector) otherwise is heavily taxed both by centre and state governments," FH&RAI President Kamlesh Barot said.

He also said the Centre should bring in new tax regime including DTC ( direct tax code) and GST (Goods and Services tax) which would help remove the double taxation.

Also, the state governments should notify Hospitality Development Promotion Boards (HDPBs) to boost the tourism development, Barot added.

Comments (0) 09.09.2012. 16:10

Sri Lanka Taj unit expects strong demand

Sept 01, 2012 (LBO) - Taj Lanka Hotels, a unit of India's Taj Hotels and Resorts is expecting strong demand for hotel rooms in the next few years despite a number of new properties coming up as tourism arrivals continue to grow.

Chairman Raymond Bickson, told shareholders that expert forecasts indicate the demand for hotel rooms to outpace supply. "Sri Lanka is set to change from a budget destination to a more exotic one offering a variety of experiences to a diverse segment of travelers," he said.

Taj was also supportive of a state intervention to set minimum prices for a five star hotel, a move that has attracted criticism from some sections of the industry as it restricts their pricing freedoms.

To escape the rule, hotels have to avoid being classified as a 'five star' property.

The firm which operates a hotel in by the Galle Face beachfront in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo reported profits of 124 million rupees in the year to March 2012, up from 99 million a year earlier, giving earnings of 89 cents per share.

The profits came despite finance expenses surging to 97 million rupees from 20 million a year earlier due to exchange losses on a foreign loan as the rupee fell from 110 to 132 to the US dollar in the past year.

However its dollar revenues are helping offset the losses, Bickson said.

Taj benefits especially from high end Indian traffic. Indian arrivals which have been growing strongly over the years, especially after Sri Lanka was made visa free has been seen some hiccups in 2012. Visas were re-imposed for India in 2012. Up to July 2012 Indian visitors grew 2.8 percent to 96,600, compared with a growth of 46 percent a year earlier.

India's currency has also depreciated making foreign travel more expensive.

09.09.2012. 15:53

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