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Published on : Thursday, May 21, 2015
An increasing number of international patients are travelling to cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, mostly from Africa, for cosmetic surgery, the experts say. The procedures can involve anything from dentistry to cosmetics like tummy tucks and nose jobs.
According to Cape Town plastic surgeon Paul Skoll, most cosmetic surgery tourists come from Britain but in the recent past, he has noticed an increase in patients from other African countries like Angola and Mozambique.
Skoll says the depreciation of the Rand has made it more affordable to have the procedures done in South Africa. Fertility treatment and the different forms of plastic surgery are the most popular.
Denise Milner of the Surgical Bliss, a company specialising in medical tourism, says an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure can cost as much as three times more in the United States than in South Africa.
Milner says about 150 international patients are already booked with her Cape Town-based company alone for procedures to be performed in the next three months.
There have been positive spin offs for the economy and Western Cape Province Tourism Minister Allan Winde says the good thing is that this type of tourism is not seasonal and can fill up during low winter seasons.
However, some experts in the tourism sector say they are concerned about the new visa requirements being imposed for such visitors as they might be discouraging to potential tourists.