Local health tourism eyes 750,000 tourists, $7B in income in 2017

BETÜL ALAKENT
ISTANBUL
Published 27.08.2017 21:22

Turkey, which has made a great move in health tourism for the past five years, aims to earn $7 billion in income from 750,000 tourists this year. Although hair implants and plastic or aesthetic surgery operations come to mind first in relation to health tourism, Turkey is becoming the center of major operations with investments made in the health sector.

Turkish Healthcare Travel Council (THTC) Founding President Emin Çakmak said Turkey receives the greatest number of patients in eye, orthopedic, dental, cardiology, oncology and brain and nerve surgery branches, and added that "There are huge investments in the oncology field in the recent period, and today we have 15 large hospitals that serve only in the oncology field providing above world standard services." Underlining that these investments make Turkey one of the centers of cancer treatment, Çakmak stated that Turkey has also made great progress in transplant operations. According to Çakmak, there has been a 100 percent increase in liver transplant and bone marrow operations in the last two years mainly thanks to the increase in the number of health centers licensed by the Health Ministry. Çakmak said an average of $10,000 is obtained from a single health tourist, adding that this amount increases up to $650,000 in operations such as liver transplantation, and bone marrow surgeries.Indicating that Turkey has become the rising star of the world in physical therapy and rehabilitation therapies, Çakmak reminded that investments in this area have also started to increase. Explaining that the rapid growth of the elderly population has increased costs in the European economy, Çakmak noted that Spain, France, Italy and Greece have tightened their elderly care budgets by 50 percent. Referring to the fact that the European elders, whose budgets have been restricted, are looking for alternative destinations, Çakmak stated that Turkey, seeing this potential in the market, has made a great move to invest in this area. "There are 125 million elderly people in Europe, including those who need regular treatment. Seeing the potential in this area, investors are preparing to open elderly nursing homes in provinces such as Muğla, Aydın and İzmir, which are exposed to high amounts of sunlight," Çakmak added.

Touching on the fact that Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark cut 50 percent of the elderly care fees, from 4,000 euros to 2,000 euros on a monthly basis, Çakmak said this is a high figure for Turkey. "If an elderly person spends 1,000 euros on their healthcare, investors will earn 1,000 euros." Çakmak shared information from a study on European countries, revealing where Europeans want to spend their retirement, saying, "Spain ranks first and is followed by France, Italy, Greece and Turkey."

According to THCT data, Turkey welcomed 746,000 health tourists in 2016 and generated $5.8 billion in revenue, with 90 percent of it being earned from medical operations and the remaining 10 percent from plastic surgery. A total of 389,267 tourists came to Turkey for health tourism in the first half of 2016 and spent $2.8 billion. While the number of health tourists in Turkey fell by 7.6 percent in the first six months of the year, revenue obtained from them soared by 21.4 percent. A total of 359,683 health tourists spent $3.4 billion in this period. Noting that the number of European health tourists dropped by 34.8 percent in the first half of 2017, Çakmak said that the number of health tourists coming from Russia and Turkic Republics increased by 19.6 percent. According to Çakmak, the revenue increase stemmed from patients with severer diseases coming from Russia and Turkic Republics.

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