Turkey’s health tourism on rise as ministers sign joint protocol

Published 18.10.2017 17:03
Minister of Health Ahmet Demircan (L) and Minister of Culture and Tourism Numan Kurtulmuş pose after signing the Protocol on Cooperation, Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 18, 2017. (AA Photo)
Minister of Health Ahmet Demircan (L) and Minister of Culture and Tourism Numan Kurtulmuş pose after signing the "Protocol on Cooperation," Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 18, 2017. (AA Photo)

Turkey's health tourism industry continues to grow, with a joint protocol signed this week between Ministry of Health and Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

"People from all over the world prefer Turkey for [medical] treatment, and our country has become a destination in this sense," said Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş.

Minister Kurtulmuş and Minister of Health Ahmet Demircan attended the signing ceremony of the "Protocol on Cooperation in the Promotion of Health Tourism" held between the two ministries, according to Anadolu Agency.

Health tourism could contribute significantly to Turkey's economy, given the great potential of Turkey's health sector.

Turkey aims to reach $7 billion in health tourism this year, according to Turkish Healthcare Travel Council (THTC). Turkey generated $5.8 billion in 2016 from about 746,000 health tourists.

"Three percent of the world population goes to other countries to get health services. We need to see that this is an enormous potential," said Kurtulmuş.

"We must make sure that our work in all of these areas clearly demonstrates a health service that meets international standards."

Patients from countries with higher national incomes than Turkey have come for serious medical treatment, Kurtulmuş said, stating the industry has capacity to perform any kind of surgical procedures.

Tourists from almost 60 countries have chosen Turkey for its low-cost medical treatment, particularly for hair transplants, physiotherapy and eye surgeries.

Kurtulmuş also referenced Turkey's therapeutic hot springs spas as a key attractor of health tourist.

"We are the world's seventh in terms of thermal resources, and first in Europe," Kurtulmuş said, referring to Turkey's 180 hot spring spa facilities.

He also said patients coming for thermal treatments generally remain in country 10-15 days, with 80 percent bringing a companion with them. Longer stays bring more revenue.

Kurtulmuş noted the importance of Turkey's recent medical assistance after a bombing in Mogudishu, Somalia, as it showed Turkey's readiness and capacity to assist in crises.

Kurtulmuş recommended Turkey work toward diversification and expansion of its tourism industry overall, particularly in the areas of winter recreation, conventions, sports and health tourism.

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