El­derly could drive the SA econ­omy

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Dr P Woon

TOURISM is quoted as a quick fix to SA’s un­em­ploy­ment. A com­monly quoted statis­tic is that “for ev­ery 8 tourists vis­it­ing SA, one job is cre­ated”.

How­ever, con­ven­tional tourism con­cen­trates on short-term stays (less than six months). We should rather fo­cus on the for­eign el­derly per­son for a long-term stay in SA.

In de­vel­oped coun­tries, the el­derly con­sume $39 000 (R535 000) per capita in a year ac­cord­ing to pub­lished sta­tis­tics. If we in SA were to de­velop re­tire­ment com­plexes for the for­eign el­derly per­son in Joburg and Cape Town, think of the pos­si­ble ef­fect on SA’s un­em­ploy­ment.

The re­tire­ment com­plex would em­ploy guards for se­cu­rity, and care­givers as com­pan­ions and helpers to the el­derly.

For the for­eign el­derly tourist, they would have the ad­van­tage of fi­nan­cial af­ford­abil­ity. The Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Liv­ing sur­vey puts Joburg and Cape Town among the world’s least ex­pen­sive cities for ex­pa­tri­ates. Think of all our over­seas friends who have com­mented about our cheap restau­rants and en­ter­tain­ment or recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties (like golf­ing and hik­ing).

The for­eign el­derly could en­joy an im­proved qual­ity life­style at a re­duced liv­ing cost. SA has world-class in­fra­struc­ture. We can drink our tap wa­ter. Our roads and high­ways are well-de­vel­oped. Our bank­ing sys­tem is tech­ni­cally su­pe­rior to many other coun­tries in the world. Most im­por­tant, the health care sys­tem in the pri­vate sec­tor is com­pa­ra­ble to the best in world.

Speak­ing as a health pro­fes­sional, one can get one’s treat­ment at a pri­vate clinic in SA sooner than many other hos­pi­tals in the world.

In ad­di­tion, SA’s good weather con­di­tions (con­ducive to year-long road-run­ning and out­door pic­nics or braais) and the ease of com­mu­ni­ca­tion us­ing English, as a com­mon lan­guage, should make SA an ir­re­sistible des­ti­na­tion for the for­eign el­derly. Could re­tire­ment tourism be a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion for un­em­ploy­ment? Kens­ing­ton


PEN­SIONER PLAN: The V&A Water­front in Cape Town. South Africa should fo­cus on the for­eign el­derly vis­it­ing the coun­try, says the writer.

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