Turkey's health tourism sector saw significant growth in the first three quarters as more than 315,258 visitors traveled to the country for medical treatment, spending almost $600 million, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) has said.
TurkStat revealed that the number of visitors between January and September increased by 17.6 percent compared to the same period last year. Around 315,258 visitors, including 235,245 foreign visitors, traveled to the country for medical treatment during that period.
Meanwhile, the increased number of visitors also drove up revenue by more than 16.5 percent in the first three quarters, hitting $596.489 million. In comparison, the amount was at $512.069 million during the same period last year and $451.985 million in 2015.
Başaran Ulusoy, chairman of the Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB), said the growing number of Turkish hospitals with international certification, and reasonable costs have boosted the country's health tourism sector.
Turkey provides healthcare services at a 40 to 60 percent cheaper rate than many developed countries, he claimed.
Underlining the fact that visitors coming in for medical treatment spend more money than ordinary tourists, Ulusoy said: "The average tourist spent $633 on average in 2016, while in the health tourism sector, that amount was $2,500 on average."
Ulusoy revealed that the number of quality hospitals, thermal hotels, spas and fitness centers that meet the expectations of international visitors has gone up significantly in the last decade.
He added that tourists from the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, Jordan, and Lebanon, have a great interest in hair transplantation and treatments.
President of the Turkish Health Tourism Association Enginer Birdal said Turkey has the potential to become a health tourism hub in the region.
Noting that tourists coming for treatment leave on average four times more foreign exchange than regular tourists, Birdal said, "Even the treatment of Turkish nationals living abroad means we treat 3 to 4 million patients who bring significant gains."
Highlighting Turkey as a major destination for aesthetic operations, Birdal said, "Turkey ranks first in hair transplantation treatments."
He stressed that Turkey's climate and transportation facilities make it even more popular and added that many Europeans and Americans travel to the country because of its affordability, while tourists from Turkic Republics, Russia, and the Middle Eastern countries prefer it for its high quality.
"For instance, a facelift surgery can cost up to 25,000 euros in the U.S., but in Turkey, the same procedure costs just 6,000 euros," he said.
Ankara Chamber of Doctors' Vedat Kaya pointed out that foreigners prefer Turkey in specific medical areas that require high technology and added that most of the patients undergo treatment mainly in Istanbul, İzmir, Antalya, and Ankara.Noting that they have followed the concept of "hotel management in health," Kaya said: "Patients come, receive treatment and then leave the country after a 10-15 day holiday. Many of our patients stay at hotels near the medical facilities to follow through on their treatment."