Competitive prices, innovative technology and well-trained professionals have put medical tourism in Turkey on the map, and in the process, generated billions of dollars towards the economy.
But industry professionals are not content to rest citing there is still much potential, and many more people around the world are still unaware of Turkey’s world-class health treatments.
Medical tourism, sometimes called health tourism is not a new niche to the travel industry, but it is only in the last ten years that Turkey has capitalised on its potential to bring millions of foreign currencies into the country.
Their hard work is paying off as seen in 2018, when 700,00 patients visited for medical treatment earning the country 1.5 Billion USD. Officials predict that in the next four years, this figure will increase by up to 5 times.
Top visiting nationalities were Azerbaijanis, Georgians, Germans, and Russians, although the country has hosted people from 144 countries. In a news report by Anadolu Agency, the income earned between 2013 to 2017 amounted to 4.4 billion USD from 1.8 million people.
The promotion of its health tourism industry falls under the 2023 vision plan to make Turkey a top visited country by diversifying niches and appealing to nationalities all over the world. Their health tourism plan has worked for five main reasons.
The level of professionalism outranks other countries, and health tourists can rely on experts to carry out procedures. The same procedure in many other countries, throughout Europe can cost up to twice the amount.
Turkey’s geographical position between east and west means patients never have far to travel, and given their international reputation, health tourism workers speak a variety of languages including English, Russian, German, Arabic and Chinese.
Last, and this is what Turkey excels at. It is a leader in hospitality since it is engrained in their culture, so patients receive top-notch service.
Turkey has broken its medical and health tourism industry down into three sectors. Hospital treatment and surgery, thermal facilities, and disabled and elderly treatments.
Thermal tourism is not new to the country and as far back as the Roman empire, soldiers were travelling to major cities like Hierapolis, and Pergamon that had natural spa springs, for treatment after battles.
Major cities, but Istanbul are leading the way in business, economy, and finance, and setting trends for other world metropolises. Community is also a strong cultural tradition, hence the dedication to disabled and elderly patients.
Such is Turkey’s solid reputation in this field, insurance companies in some countries are covering the travelling cost for patients because it works out cheaper for them.
Official stats are also proving the industry’s massive growth. So far, the JCI (Joint Commission International) has accredited 61 Turkish facilities making up 21% of the world’s certified medical establishments.
In 2013, Turkey hosted 300,000 health tourists and generated 2.5 billion dollars. From 2017 to 2019, this amount rose to 10 billion from over 700,000 people. Industry officials hope that in the next five years, they can generate 25 billion dollars.
One reason for promoting this niche is that each patient spends far more than the average beach tourist, and it works with the International Medical Travel journal ranking Turkey as third in the world.
By far, a big success story is hair transplants with the industry earning over a billion dollars last year. Even though it is an intense and expensive treatment, Turkey is attracting patients from near and far with treatment prices averaging 2,500 euros. Trends show men come from Middle Eastern countries and Spain, the UK, France, and Netherlands.
Aside from that, many nationalities arrive for cosmetic dental treatment, because they cannot afford the same procedure in their home country. Overall though, patients can tap into a wide range of procedures including sleep disorders, vascular and cosmetic surgery.
One fan of medical tourism in Turkey is UK star Katie Price, who has returned frequently for three facelifts, breast reduction, a bum lift, and a procedure for dropping eyes, a common result of ageing. Her finance Kris Boysen at the same time also got a nose job.
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