Tourists to South Africa come home with more than a tan after a "scalpel safari". MARIANNE HERON reports.

A new breed of tourist to South Africa is returning home with more than a tan to account for their glowing good looks. The secret lies not only in the holiday of a lifetime in game parks or the Cape winelands but the chance to transform face or figure at the same time. Their secret is an unusual partnership between surgical skill and tourism, which comes packaged in luxury. Enterprising tour operators there are currently around 10 of them have spotted the potential of plastic surgery, at a fraction of European prices, combined with exotic African adventure. And their offers are attracting an increasing number of overseas visitors to take "scalpel safaris". In Ireland and the UK, the tendency is for people to go into hiding post-operatively. South Africa where nips tucks and boob jobs are fair game for table talk offers privacy with a perfect holiday alibi to cover for absence.

A big part of the attraction is the saving involved in world- class surgery which can more than cover the cost of the holiday. This is due both to the fact that the South African currency, the Rand, has fallen in value in recent months and the fact that prices in South Africa are much lower than those in Europe. When clients opt for multiple procedures breast augmentation with liposuction and a tummy tuck or a face and eye lift are popular combinations the trip becomes even more cost effective