Turkey is attracting over 100,000 medical tourists a year, thanks to an increase in the number of private hospitals, and even larger numbers of wellness tourists.
The Health Tourism department of the Health Ministry and Gazi University faculty of commercial and tourism education have taken an inventory of health tourism in Turkey. According to the study, the number of health tourists coming to Turkey for medical treatment has been increasing regularly for the past three years. While 74,093 patients came to Turkey in 2008, there were 91,952 in 2009 and 109,678 last year. The total number of patients who came to Turkey in the past three years is 275,723. Among those patients, 94 percent received treatment in private hospitals while 6 percent went to public hospitals.
According to the study, foreign patients choose to receive treatment in Turkey because of its reasonable prices, high quality of service, pleasant climate, abundance of vacation opportunities and short waiting time. The infrastructure, competent doctors and reputation of hospitals are listed among the other reasons. The eye, brain surgery, orthopedic and cardiology departments attract the largest number of patients.
Turkey attracts the largest number of medical tourists from Germany, the Netherlands and France, where the population of people with Turkish roots is high. Patients from Balkan countries and Turkic republics are also among the largest groups. The study further shows that Istanbul, Kayseri, Adana and Gaziantep are the provinces that attract the largest number of foreign patients.
In addition there are many wellness tourists in the 34 thermal spa centres of Turkey that are marketed as a choice destination with various treatment options such as balneotherapy and thalassotherapy. Anatolia is located on a major geothermal belt and has several thermal baths and spas. These thermal spas are promoted as cures for various illnesses due to the high density of minerals in their waters.
The thermal spa treatments in Turkey attract travellers every year, especially from the adjoining countries of Greece, Bulgaria, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran, which accounted for about 25 % of all wellness-related visitors to Turkey in 2009.
Apart from the thermal spas, medical procedures such as IVF, eye, dental and cosmetic surgery are also gaining popularity. The geographical location, US dollar exchange rates and added tourist attractions make Turkey a medical tourism destination with potential. The number of medical tourists is expected to increase by 15 % in 2011