President of the Ministry of Health Tourism Board Dursun Aydın relayed information on upcoming projects and where the nation is presently when it comes to promoting health tourism in Turkey.
Reminding that with the new restructuring all authorization and coordination duties with respect to health tourism in Turkey have been handed over to the Ministry of Health, Aydın explains that the ministry has swiftly embarked upon a number of projects in this area.
Aydın says that as a result of these efforts, over the past three years, Turkey's health tourism industry has seen an over 30 percent average growth, placing the nation on the fast track to becoming a world leader in the industry.
"In 2011, approximately 500,000 patients came to Turkey within one of the three subcategories of health tourism; medical, thermal and senior tourism. We are expecting the number of tourists in this category to increase by 30 percent, and are also anticipating a 100 percent increase in revenue. Our estimation for this year's turnover is near two billion dollars and we believe we will comfortably meet our mark," states Aydın.
''WE ARE ONLY AT THE BEGINNING''
Noting that Turkey has serious potential in all three sub-categories of health tourism, Aydın went on to state: "Hospitals and infrastructure in the private sector have reached a significant level in regards to treatment and medical tourism.
The legal regulations arranged by the Ministry of Finance have brought on a 50 percent tax exemption for private sector health tourism revenue. This is not only a serious incentive for the sector, but it also has been influential in recording turnover.''
''IN THERMAL AND SENIOR TOURISM WE ARE ONLY AT THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG''
According to Aydın, the true great potential in health tourism lies in thermal and senior tourism.
"In terms of thermal tourism, Turkey has seen a number of continuous fast developments and investments. We are working on additional legislative regulations in regards to thermal tourism. We have also worked on legislative arrangements regarding the health standards of accommodation facilities. Taking all of this into consideration, thermal tourism is progressing with speed. We anticipate that in the days to come, thermal tourism will grow like an avalanche in Turkey.
In addition to this, in the west there is over a 20 percent elderly population. When even a small segment of this figure chooses to come to Turkey in what we call the dead season, the winter and spring months, and fills accommodation it will be a great contribution to Turkey's tourism."
TREATMENT IN ISTANBUL, THERMAL IN DENİZLİ AND SENIORS IN ANTALYA
Explaining that when it comes to treatment or medical tourism, Istanbul draws in the most visitors, followed by Kocaeli, Ankara and Antalya, Aydın says that most patients come from Germany, Holland, Austria, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, the Turkish Republics, Middle Eastern nations and Belgium.
Aydın says that in thermal tourism the highest number of visitors are still from Japan, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Iran and other Middle Eastern nations and the U.S. and the preferred destinations for these tourists are Denizli, İzmir, Balıkesir, Afyon and Bursa.
President of the Ministry of Health Tourism Board Dursun Aydın also added that the popular summer tourist destination Antalya has the potential to be a leading destination when it comes to senior tourism.