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Egypt uses augmented reality to promote medical tourism

Egypt’s General Authority for Health Care announced the use of metaverse technology to promote its medical tourism project as the country’s tourism sector is trying to compensate for the losses incurred during the coronavirus pandemic, and most recently the Russian war on Ukraine.
Mask-clad EgyptAir crew check the documents of travelers preparing to board an Airbus A320neo aircraft on the tarmac at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, June 20, 2020.

CAIRO — In an unprecedented move, Egypt’s General Authority for Health Care recently announced the use of metaverse technology to promote medical tourism, offering customers all over the world a unique experience to visit health facilities, revitalizing tourism and supporting the national economy.

Egypt’s tourism sector, which is one of the main sources of national income, was hit hard by Russia's war on Ukraine and before it the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Egyptian government to seek solutions and alternatives to stimulate and support tourism to compensate for the losses it incurred in the past years.

Ahmed el-Sobky, chairman of the General Authority for Health Care, announced the launch of “3D virtual reality” technology for the first time in Egypt to promote the authority’s project for medical tourism — dubbed “We Take Care of You in Egypt” — among Arabs, Africans and foreigners, on the sidelines of the Africa Health ExCon held in New Cairo on June 5-7.

He explained in press statements that launching the use of the metaverse technology to promote the medical tourism project provides a unique experience for travelers from all over the world. 

Sobky noted that the metaverse technology allows them to visit health facilities affiliated with the authority in the governorates where health insurance is comprehensive (Port Said, Luxor, Ismailia) and gives them a holistic journey in the virtual world using 3D virtual reality technology to introduce them to these facilities’ capabilities and amazing installations, rooms and hotel amenities, and the extent to which they match their needs and aspirations before dealing with them.

He said that launching the new 3D virtual reality metaverse technology is the fruit of the authority’s efforts, and its keenness to provide smart virtual services worthy of Egypt’s standing. The aim is to pave the way for a smart future filled with distinct virtual services that meet the aspirations of customers and contribute to the efficient use of time and effort.

Sobky explained, “It is also in line with the authority's ambitions and strategy to transform its services toward the digital world and artificial intelligence, to enhance its leading role in the field of health care globally and to achieve its vision toward providing an advanced model of health care with internationally approved quality in Egypt.”

He added that the provision of this type of virtual services leads to achieving the sustainable health development goals of Egypt's Vision 2030 based on modern digital technology, and produces positive outcomes in the health-care sector's work. It is an additional step toward a holistic artificial intelligence service, and yet another added achievement to the authority's record of achievements, he said.

Amr Sedky, former head of the parliamentary Tourism and Aviation Committee, told Al-Monitor that promoting medical tourism in Egypt using the latest modern technology is a good step to revitalizing tourism and compensating for the losses caused by various global conditions such as the coronavirus pandemic and Russia's war on Ukraine.

But at the same time, he believes that the government and parliament play a major role in promoting medical tourism, which Egypt is renowned for, whether regionally or globally, in order to achieve record revenues that support the national economy. This can be done by expediting the issuance of the medical tourism law, which has yet to be ratified, he added. 

Sedky explained that this law would define the competencies, responsibilities and tasks of the health and tourism sector, and the joint coordination between the two sides to organize matters and develop health tourism in Egypt. He noted that the conflict between the two tourism and health sectors in Egypt is a serious matter that threatens the success of promoting this important project for the national economy.

He added that the use of the latest modern technological means to promote and market medical tourism is promising and indicates the government's awareness of the country's distinct sites and medical and hospital tourism that do not exist in many parts of the world. Such a step would attract more tourists to visit Egypt and would revive tourism and support the national economy.

Yaman el-Hamaki, professor of economics and trade at Ain Shams University, said that the Egyptian government is very interested in searching for unconventional solutions to stimulate tourism, as medical tourism is one of the important projects that will play a major role in increasing the number of foreign tourists, which would reflect positively on the national economy.

She told Al-Monitor that using the latest modern technology to promote medical tourism increases the chances of success in revitalizing and supporting tourism, and speeding up the achievement of the desired goals, notably reaching a global audience and encouraging them to visit Egypt.

She said that the government's multiple solutions to support tourism is an important matter, as there is a trend toward expanding archaeological discoveries in various parts of the country, as well as using modern technology in marketing for medical tourism. 

All these steps, she added, would push the revitalization of the tourism sector and increase the number of tourists visiting Egypt to enjoy its distinct sites, thus positively reflecting on the national economy.