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Turkish health care tourism revenue expected to reach 20B$ in upcoming years

A growing center of attraction for health care tourism with its trained human resources, improved services and affordable prices, Turkey aims to raise the revenue and provide treatment for 2 million people in the upcoming years.

Improved services with cutting edge technology, competent experts and affordable prices have recently made Turkey an attractive destination among world citizens who are seeking treatment. The country has achieved significant momentum in health care tourism, offering a wide array of services and generating revenue. Having hosted 1 million people for health tourism purposes, Turkish health care professionals, focusing on the tourism aspect of the sector, now aim to welcome 2 million people in the upcoming years. International Health Association head Dr. Fulya Saglık said that health tourism, one of the oldest tourism in the world, has been a rapidly rising sector in recent years and very important alternative type of tourism. She added that Turkey is aiming to bring $20 billion to $25 billion in health tourism revenue in the upcoming years.

Turkey, thanks to its modern hospitals, technological infrastructure, specialised doctor and staff, rendering health services in European standards. Dr. Saglık said that in total 42 healthcare institutions approved by world-renowed accreditation agencies, quality of medical standardization approved by Joint Commissions International, making Turkey second in the world. Saglık defined health tourism as “going to another country for treatment purposes for any reason to restore one’s health,” adding that the individual who goes to another country for treatment is also called a “health tourist.”

According to Dr. Saglık there are 3 main point in health tourism, one of them is medical tourism for patients to receive medical and surgical treatment, second is thermal tourism for rehabilitation and healthy leisure time, and the third is elderly and disabled tourism for longer stay in geriatric centers. Dr. Saglık stressed that major breakthroughs have been made in the health sector in Turkey in recent years and the quality and efficiency of the health system has improved. Turkey is an attractive in health tourism due to its geographical location, its health institutions, trained manpower in the sector, thermal springs and natural beauty said Dr. Saglık. “Turkey is one of the 10 favorite countries in the world due to its level of development in the health industry and due to its historical and cultural richness,” she added.


Turkey located in-between Europe and Asia which is a great opportunity for patients to come for treatment by plane in just few hours from so many countries. Turkish traditional hospitality have a great effect on medical services as well. Doctors and medical staff speaks foreign languages which is a great opportunity for patients to communicate with physician on their main language.

Thermal tourism demand getting higher especially from northern European and Scandinavian countries due to climatic conditions. Important market share of thermal tourism occurs in Turkey with decision of some insurance companies in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Netherlands to cover the costs of their patients. Middle Eastern patient choose Turkey for treatment based on visa exemptions and cultural characteristics. Developed countries with higher costs of uninsured medical procedures boost tendency to lower-cost countries to reduce treatment services for patients. Dr. Saglık added that treatment in Turkey helps save approximately 60 percent in medical operation costs compared to many European countries; thus, 300.000 health tourists same to Turkey in 2013, bringing $2,5 billion in revenue, according to official figures. While revenue in health was $9 billion to $10 billion in 2017-18, it is expected to rise to up to $25 billion with 2 million International patients in the upcoming years.

According to Saglık, the public sector makes $9,000 in revenue per health tourist, while this figure is as high as $12,000 in the private sector. Additionally, foreign patients spend $2,000 in public hospitals and $4,000 in private hospitals per person. As far as the distribution of foreign patients in Turkey by provinces, Antalya ranks first, followed by Istanbul, İzmir, Mugla and Aydın, while July, August and September are the busiest months in the sector.

It should be emphasized that mainly Germans, Libyans and Iraqis coming to Turkey and largest number of medical tourists treat eye diseases in distribution by clinics.

One in seven medical tourists come for eye disease treatment to Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara, Dr. Saglık noted that patients saves up to 50-60 percent in health spending. Turkey preferred as well for heart surgeries and aesthetic interventions. Turkey has 9th rank in the world in number of plastic surgeons per country. Turkey is preferred for lower costs of dental implants and aesthetic dentistry especially patients from Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the U.K and Arab countries coming for successful treatments and save their medical expenditures. Insurance companies do not cover dental, ophthalmological and aesthetic procedures, patients prefer to travel abroad for quality treatment with less costs.

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