29 July 2001
Tourists offered plastic surgery and safari package
South African tourism specialists are offering holidaymakers plastic surgery and wildlife expeditions as part of a package holiday.
Promoters calling the business "medical tourism" are cashing in on Americans wanting to take advantage of well-trained doctors as well as exotic game. They are also being lured over the Atlantic by a favourable exchange rate.
The medical profession is starting to target tourists with advertising, despite the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of South Africa prohibiting members from promoting services directly to patients.
Dirk Lazarus, a Cape Town-based surgeon, urges clients through his web site to "come for the surgery, stay for the scenery".
Surgery & Safari, a company set up by marketing executive Lorraine Melvill, offers surgery, game park and vineyard tours, rides on a steam train and visits to the black township of Soweto outside Johannesburg.
One of its customers, Dotti Ramos, a California civil servant, told the Los Angeles Times she spent less than $13,000 (about £9,000) on her package which included surgical procedures, consultations, pampering at a plush Johannesburg hotel and a two-night safari.
A South African government spokesman said tourism is a key sector of the country's economy and they are happy for tourists to visit, regardless of their reasons.