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24 October 2017 / Lifestyle

Turkey is Dominating the Health Tourism Industry

This month, the Turkish Health Ministry and the Culture and Tourism Ministry signed off on a joint plan to further promote the health and thermal tourism industries of Turkey. The project will capitalise on growing interest from other nationalities who are ready and willing to travel to Turkey for services that are far cheaper than in their own country.

In 2017, Turkey expects to generate more than 7 billion USD from health tourism, a significant contribution towards the economy. Even though this sounds like a large and unbelievable target, the THTC (Turkish Healthcare Travel Council) is eager to point out that in 2016, Turkey made $5.8 billion from 746,000 travellers seeking health and thermal treatments, and the global revenue of health tourism is more than 100 billion USD. Three percent of the worldwide population is willing to travel abroad to take care of their health and Turkey wants that market share.

The mutually agreed plan is part of a more comprehensive tourism strategy plan with a deadline of 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. By that year, Turkey wants to be receiving 1 million visitors a year to its health tourism industries that will include thermal spa springs. Now Turkey ranks seventh in the world for its thermal facilities and third for health tourism. These staggering figures if reached will generate more than 20 billion USD a year in revenue.

Ministers are also keen to point out that all procedures and establishments dealing in health tourism meet international standards, so patients have peace of mind. Various promotion methods including television, consulates, trade shows, magazine and international co-operation, all take credit for the success, but one of the critical factors in spreading the word is Turkish Airlines, the national carrier who distribute brochures on routes to more than 40 different countries and offer discounted treatments for certain passengers.


Nationalities and Health Treatment

Primary interest seems to come mainly from nationalities with a higher yearly income than Turkey. Therefore they are in part attracted by the low prices. Records show more than 140 nationalities have tapped into Turkey’s health tourism market, with Germans, Brits and the Dutch being most prominent from European countries.

People also travel from Iraq, Russia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. The Turkey Africa Project that aims to increase business, trade and relationships between Turkey and the continent also play a large part in promoting Turkish health services to African nationalities.

Although many treatments are available, some are proving more popular than others include eye surgery, dental work, and hair transplants. Turkey’s 180 natural spring spas also attract those looking to improve skin and muscle conditions. Stats say most Europeans travel for eye surgery while Arab health tourists gravitate towards hair surgery. Estimates cite clinics around Turkey perform 200 hair transplant surgeries every day.

In August 2016, Turkey welcomed more than 43,000 people to its health and thermal facilities. December was the slowest month with just over 20,000 patients, but this low figure falls within the Christmas season.

Estimates say thermal patients stay an average of 14 days in the country and often bring a companion with them, which is ideal since the longer they stay, the more money they generate towards the tourism industry. Part of the reason Turkey is so passionate about pursuing this course of action is that health tourists spend ten times more money than the average beach holidaymaker.


Where Do Patients Go?

Many centres around Turkey offer the full range of treatments, but once again, Istanbul is proving to be the most popular destination for health tourists. Closely following are private hospitals in Aegean Bodrum, the Capital of Ankara, the third largest city of Izmir and Bursa in the northwest.

Aware that they are tapping into the health tourism market, the private hospitals ensure utmost comfort for their patients by also arranging hotels for recuperation and VIP transfers to and from the airport. If you need recommendations for top private hospitals in Turkey, please contact our consultants here, who will give further details.


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