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Turkey incentivises medical tourism sector

Turkey’s Ministry of Trade is offering substantial investment incentives for local businesses to develop medical and health tourism. These are explained in Communique No. 2015/8 on “Supporting the Trade in Foreign Exchange Earning Services.”

The communique determines the procedures and principles regarding meeting certain expenses related to activities carried out by those who will benefit from the communique to increase the foreign exchange earning service revenues and to improve the international competitiveness of the service sectors in Turkey.

To benefit from medical and health tourism incentives, it is necessary to obtain a health tourism authorisation certificate first.

If a hospital sets up a preliminary diagnosis centre abroad, 60% of the rent of this facility is covered by the ministry for four years and support is provided for up to 10 units. Once the centre is open and advertising activities commenced, another 60% non-refundable grant is provided for four years.

If companies want to attend a conference or fair, they can receive a 50% non-refundable grant for fair participation expenses and the transport costs of a maximum of two representatives.

When it comes to commission payments made to agencies bringing international patients to Turkey, 50% support is allocated for four years.

Non-refundable grants can be obtained for 60% of the payments for reports needed to enter any foreign market, including financial and legal reports, as well as 60% of the expenses related to consultancy services for foreign company acquisitions.

A non-refundable grant of up to 50% can be claimed for expenses related to consultancy services from companies, organisations and experts on subjects determined by the Trade Ministry to increase the competitive advantage in international markets.

The incentives supported by the Trade Ministry in this context are very attractive. If used correctly, medical and health tourism will increase significantly every year.

Turkey’s target is to treat two million international patients in Turkey by 2023.

Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) suggests that 388,000 foreigners visited Turkey for health tourism and revenues stood at $550 million in 2020.

The comparable TUIK figures for 2021 are 642,000 people (including 400,000 from Europe) and revenues climbed to $1.05 billion.

Some locals in the sector suggest that the revenues were actually much higher at somewhere between $2.5 billion and $3 billion when unrecorded revenues are included.

Most foreigners visit Turkey for cosmetic surgery, hair transplants, cardiovascular surgery, dentistry, orthopaedics, cancer treatment and in vitro fertilisation.

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