Turkey aims to attract 1.5 million health tourism visitors per year
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey aims to bring in 1.5 million health tourism visitors and one million thermal tourism visitors per year in order to become the world’s number two in the health tourism sector by 2023, Health Minister Ahmet Demircan has said.
“We will become the health tourism center for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and Russia,” Demircan said in Ankara at a protocol signing ceremony on Oct. 18.
Demircan and Culture Minister Numan Kurtulmuş attended the cooperation protocol signing ceremony to promote Turkey as a health hub abroad.
“Health will be a locomotive sector for the ‘New Turkey,’” Demircan said, praising the new state hospitals recently built in Adana, Yozgat, Isparta and Mersin.
“We have some significant advantages and opportunities … In 2016 we served 359,000 patients at our public, university and private health facilities. In the first half of 2017, the number was 183,000. In terms of geothermal potential, we are in the top seven globally. Our objective for 2023 is to become number two,” he added.
Demircan also said Turkey currently performs as an advisor and educator to 23 countries on developing their health systems and they aim to increase that number to 35.
Health organizations that want to serve as health tourism centers will be legally registered for this purpose, according to a government plan.
In addition, a 24/7 hotline in six languages - English, Russian, French, Arabic, German and Farsi - is also now operating, Demircan said.
As for promotion efforts, Turkish Airlines will distribute brochures on the subject while the Tourism Ministry and Turkish embassies abroad will work to promote the country as a health tourism hub. Demircan said this will help Turkey meet its 2023 goals “with ease.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, Kurtulmuş praised Turkey as a “treatment hub for people around the world.”
“[Thermal tourism visitors] stay for at least 10 to 15 days and 80 percent of them bring an attendant with them. So this is an important opportunity and we will form cooperation initiatives on this too,” he said.
Health tourism is among several tourism divisions that Turkey aims to boost promotion of in the coming years, along with congress tourism and winter sports tourism.
“We are aware of Turkey’s potential in the medical and thermal tourism sectors, especially with elderly care. The thermal sector is one that we have not fully embraced up to now, even though we are the world’s seventh biggest and Europe’s biggest player in this sector,” Kurtulmuş said.
Turkey is home to around 180 hot springs of various sizes.