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Türkiye ranks among top 10 health tourism countries globally

“Türkiye has become one of the top 10 countries receiving most foreign patients from around the world,” according to the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), reflecting the rise of health tourism in the country.

“In the ranking of health tourism in countries, the top consists of Mexico, India, Thailand, Brazil, Türkiye and Singapore,” Elif Ural, board member at the TÜRSAB, told Anadolu Agency (AA) recently.

Ural stated that health tourism in the world is categorized under three sections – medical, thermal and elderly-disabled tourism.

“As the TÜRSAB board, we are putting in efforts to work together with our TÜRSAB Nature and Adventure Tourism Specialized Presidency, as we aim to further develop our work within the scope of the ‘Century of Türkiye,’” she said.

Ural mentioned that there is a rapid growth in the number of hospitals, medical centers, doctors, health care personnel and travel agencies, all of which play active roles in the rise of health tourism, thanks to Türkiye’s tourism infrastructure.

She highlighted that TÜRSAB carries out effective operations for the development of health tourism and works in cooperation with all public institutions and organizations in the field, especially with the management of the Turkish state-owned health care firm USHAŞ.

She cited the two separate wide-ranged health tourism workshops organized by the association with expert participants, saying: “Last year, we organized health tourism information conferences in five different cities, specifically Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Gaziantep, in which we aim to attract high-income tourists to Türkiye in our ‘Century of Tourism’ project.”

“We will carry out a series of operations, ranging from inventory organization to providing special training to our members, from marketing strategies aimed for tourism of the regions to promotional planning, and more.”

29 countries targeted

Ural stated that USHAŞ targets 29 countries for health tourism to Türkiye, which are the U.K., Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Senegal, Mauritania and Nigeria.

She emphasized that Türkiye’s health tourism revenues have been growing steadily, except for the decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Health tourism revenues were at $1.49 billion in 2019, though this figure reached $2.3 billion in 2023, according to Turkish Statistical Insitute (TurkStat) data. However, despite the pleasing increase, we know that we still have a long way to go, and as TÜRSAB, we will continue to put in the effort to utilize Türkiye’s potential,” noted Ural.

Ural stated that foreign patients visiting Türkiye come within the framework of medical tourism.

“Patients coming to Türkiye receive treatment mostly from units, such as gynecology, internal medicine, ophthalmology, medical biochemistry, general surgery, dentistry, orthopedics, traumatology, infectious diseases and ear-nose-throat branches, according to data from USHAŞ,” she explained.

“Apart from these, we also attract great interest in the fields of aesthetics and hair transplantation; however, we do not have data on the income items of incoming patients, as they are undisclosed,” she said.

“Foreign patients go around the city where they are staying, shop and taste different flavors from our cuisine under the conditions permitted by the treatment. Those who come for aesthetic and hair transplantation reasons stay in accommodation facilities, as well as those who come for thermal tourism, medical spas, and elderly and disabled tourism mainly use accommodation facilities. We can say that it is a segment that attracts attention in general because it has a high added value,” she added.

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