Turkey promotes medical tourism offerings


Tourism officials in Turkey want to expand the offering to focus more on the health and wellness offerings. Turkish health tourism offerings include laser-eye surgery, dentistry, cosmetic surgery and fertility treatment.

Twenty three institutions will jointly hold Turkey's first health tourism fair in Antalya from February 26 to March 1, 2009. The Hetex Health Tourism Fair is being arranged at the Antalya Expo Center by Anfas Antalya Fair and Exhibition. The target market is agencies and others from 105 countries.

Numbers of health tourists are estimates rather than hard figures. Although 200,000 a year is a regularly used figure – this includes large numbers coming to spas and wellness centres in hotels, so the true medical tourist figure is probably nearer 20,000.

What further complicates the figures is that they include elderly people from nursing homes sent by Scandinavian governments in groups for long-stay holidays. For example, Aspendos Hospital will get 200 elderly people paid for by the Norwegian state, from January to May 2009.

The health tourism fair may become more targeted, but at present organisers and advisors have been quoted as primarily seeking the somewhat mythical vague target of 46 million uninsured Americans. Recession, terror attacks in India, political problems in Thailand and Turkey, and a new US President promising affordable health insurance for all, will make it increasingly difficult for countries to persuade more than small numbers of Americans to go overseas for treatment.

Turkey is also targeting Europe. Organisers quote a normal EU price of 3,000 to 5,000 euros for laser eye surgery; compared to 1,500 euros in Turkey inclusive of hotels for three nights and airfares. What Turkey has to do is to convince potential EU customers that the cheap prices do not mean poor quality.

For a country such as Turkey to have 23 JCI accredited hospitals and clinics is quite incredible, Convincing agencies and customers that those regulated by the Ministry of Health which regulates the clinics and hospitals in Turkey, offer acceptable standards is not so simple as there is no international standard to measure them against. This is why so many places seeking overseas business have or are seeking JCI status.



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