The Turkish government has unveiled new incentives to boost its medical tourism sector that in 2017 generated 10 billion USD in revenue and was an increase of 31% on the year before.
The incentives were unveiled by Naci Agbal, the Turkish finance minister and include VAT Exemption for foreigners who choose Turkey for their medical needs including diagnosis, treatment, aftercare and rehabilitation.
Naci Agbal added that more incentives are due to be presented, especially for investors looking to expand into the private, medical sector. They will include VAT exemptions as well as tax deductions.
The government is also looking to sign agreements with social security departments abroad, that will further encourage them to send sick and ill patients to Turkey for treatment.
The Rise of Medical Tourism in Turkey
Turkey first started their medical tourism campaign in 2008, as part of a more comprehensive strategic plan belonging to their all-encompassing Vision Project that by 2023, will see Turkey as one of the top performing economies in the world.
In the decade that followed, many nationalities including Europeans, and Middle eastern chose Turkey as their preferred destination for treatment such as dental, hair transplants, and cosmetic surgery.
The industry has also profited from recommendations and support by Turkish Airlines, one of the leading companies of Turkey that operate all over the globe. They offer passengers who are coming to Turkey for medical treatment, various discounts and promotions.
Istanbul is especially popular with hair transplant patients because the cost can be as much as 90% cheaper than in their home countries. The Middle Eastern Travel and Tourism Association say as many as 500 surgeries are performed in the city every week.
Turkey is tapping into a lucrative market because costs for medical tourism in European and other destinations has soared, leaving many to seek cheaper treatment abroad. With medical tourists spending ten times the amount of beach tourists, the revenue generated is a significant part of Turkey’s broader tourism plan.
Turkey has many sources of natural spa water which are being utilised and promoted abroad. Popular destinations include Esenyurt in Istanbul, Denizli and Izmir in the Aegean region, as well as Ayder plateau in the Northeast.
In 2017, 433,000 foreign medical tourists used Turkish hospitals for a variety of treatments. By 2023, the government wants to generate 20 billion USD every year from medical tourism in Turkey, by bringing in 1.5 million patients as well as tapping into the health and spa industries.
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