Turkey attracted nearly 1 million people for health tourism in 2018, said an industry official on Tuesday.
"Thermal tourism contributes to Turkey's economy with healing waters, as well as seas, rivers and lakes," Yavuz Yılık, head of the Thermal Health and Tourism Association (TESTUD), told Anadolu Agency.
Yılık stressed that Turkey is one of the world's top seven countries for thermal springs, with about 1,500 natural hot spring water resources.
"Protecting our health-giving healing waters, using them properly, and passing them down to future generations with the same qualities is also important for the country's future," he added.
Besides being an indispensable holiday destination for tourists, especially those from Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Turkey has also seen considerable growth in health care tourism in recent years. The number of health tourists has increased tenfold in the past decade, with 75,000 visitors coming for health reasons in 2008. In 2017, that number rose to 700,000 medical tourists, according to the Istanbul International Health Tourism Association (ISTUSAD).
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca recently said Turkey's revenue in health tourism has reached $1.5 billion, and that they aim to increase this revenue five times by 2030. Receiving qualified service with low prices caused many patients from the world to flock to Turkey, he said.
Health tourism encompasses a wide range of treatments, from medical tourism (such as treatment and surgery in hospitals), thermal tourism (services such as rehabilitation and rest in thermal facilities), elderly and disabled tourism (long-term stays with social activities in geriatric treatment centers).
While Turkey has developed its investment portfolio within the framework of these categories, the interest of tourists who seek treatment in areas such as oncology, orthopedics and aesthetics in the past few years has been reflected in official figures.
Health tourists choose Turkey for a variety of reasons, including price, quality, technical conditions, short waiting periods and high-end facilities. Turkey holds a prominent place in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, organ transplantation as well as dental care and plastic surgery.