Turkey’s rising profile as the ideal destination for health tourism

Özlem Ergün Ulueren is the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey

Medical or health tourism has been growing in popularity in the last decades. Annually, around 30 million people travel out of their country to seek treatment elsewhere. The sector attracts increasing revenues and is predicted to reach a volume of $179.6 billion by 2026.

Health tourism usually refers to medical tourism, thermal tourism (hot springs, spa and wellness included) and elderly care. Catering to visitors across the whole spectrum of healthcare services, Turkey stands as the perfect destination for this type of tourism.

The country has made a breakthrough in healthcare tourism through a number of initiatives undertaken over the years. In 2005, Turkey founded the Turkish Healthcare Travel Council to promote efforts in the field. It also spearheaded the establishment of the Global Healthcare Travel Council with almost 60 country members. Most recently, a corporation has been launched entitled International Health Services Inc. (or “USHAŞ”), a strategic solution partner for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and equipment.

Besides these initiatives, it is important to note that the government of Turkey has invested significantly to improve healthcare capacity and facilities in the country, including top-notch hospitals and well-trained medical staff as well as treatment options across the board. Indeed, in the last 15 years, Turkey has invested more than 50 billion USD in new hospitals and medical technology.

The country’s healthcare capacity is also evident in how quickly it mobilized resources in combatting Covid-19 pandemic.

Turkey’s healthcare facilities provide high-tech solutions and offer treatments in all fields that comes to mind. The medical staff, including doctors and surgeons, are highly educated and well qualified, with international recognition especially in the fields of organ transplantations, stem cell technology and cancer treatment. It is also worth mentioning that one of the main attractions of Turkey as health tourism spot is the quality of care it offers at competitive costs.

Its location and geographical blessings help Turkey’s bid to become a star destination in health tourism. The country enjoys four-seasons and boasts many natural beauties. These natural assets attract tourists for thermal treatments, spa and wellness facilities. The location gives an advantage in terms of connectivity and reach, with a 4-hour flight distance to 1 billion people and 57 countries. Turkish Airlines connects travelers to Istanbul with direct flights from 350 airports.

Thanks to these assets, Turkey has become one of the top 3 destinations in the world for medical tourism, and the first stop for European medical tourists. In 2019,    Turkish hospitals successfully treated more than 1,000,000 patients from 165 countries. Appreciated for its hospitality towards guests and visitors, Turkey is the 6th most popular destination for tourists in the world. Even in the face of a global pandemic, Turkey has continued to provide medical tourism services. In fact, the country is now set to achieve 1.5 million health tourists by 2023.

To conclude, Turkey’s rising profile to become a star destination for health tourism should attract more Ghanaians to consider Turkey for treatments of all kinds. Brotherly relations between the two countries is another reason to seek medical, thermal, wellness &spa, and elderly treatment opportunities in Turkey for Ghanaians. Building on the friendly bilateral relations, Turkey stands ready to collaborate with Ghana to boost the health infrastructure of the country and to share its know-how and expertise in this field.

The writer is the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey

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