Turkey becomes a major player in global health tourism

Turkey’s health services industry served more than 640,000 people from other nations, and 400,000 of them were Europeans, offering a wide range of treatments, including very popular plastic surgery, hair transplant and in vitro fertilization.

Revenues of the health tourism industry exceeded $1 billion last year. But this figure is probably much higher at around $2.5 billion to $3 billion if unrecorded revenues are included, according to Cihat Alagöz, chair of the Trade Fairs Industry Council of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB).

“Turkey is well-positioned in the global health tourism industry, where India, South Korea, the U.S., Thailand and Malaysia are the major players. With the progress it has made, Turkey has turned into a pioneering country in the health tourism sector. The local industry has a huge potential to become an important source of hard currency,” Alagöz added.

Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) showed that 388,000 foreigners visited Turkey for health tourism and revenues stood at $550 million, Alagöz recalled, adding that the number of visitors nearly doubled to 642,000 people and revenues climbed to $1.05 billion in 2021.

“It is, however, estimated that the revenues were actually much higher at somewhere between $2.5 billion and $3 billion when unrecorded revenues are included.”

Last year, Turkey’s overall tourism revenues amounted to $25 billion as some 30 million holidaymakers visited the country.

Alagöz added that in 2021 the average spending per foreign tourist was $750 but in the health tourism sector per capita spending was around $2,000.

Most foreigners visit Turkey for plastic surgery, hair transplant, cardiovascular surgery, dentistry, orthopedics, cancer treatment and in vitro fertilization.