Turkey’s health tourism expects record growth in 2021: association chairman

Turkey’s health tourism is forecasted to grow record high in 2021 following a “successful mass-vaccination program” against COVID-19, the Health Tourism Association chairman told Xinhua Monday.

“The turnover of Turkey’s health tourism may reach record score by the second half of this year, following a successful vaccination schedule,” Servet Terziler pointed out.

The first batch of 3 million doses of China’s SinoVac COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Dec. 30, 2020.

Mass vaccination will start after 14 days of tests, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted.

Terziler remarked that the health tourism sector in the country completed 2020 with a 20 percent year-on-year loss in revenue, which should be deemed “minor” when considering the pandemic conditions.

“Following a sharp decrease of incoming visitors during the first three months, we saw significant growth in the number of patients from abroad in July, August, and September,” the chairman explained the position of the sector in 2020 amid the pandemic.

The highest increase was recorded in October, but the figure slightly dropped towards the end of the year due to the fast spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Terziler added.

The Turkish government has recently re-imposed a series of limitations to curb the rising COVID-19 cases and closed restaurants and cafes. Nationwide curfews are also in place.

Despite the setbacks, the sector achieved 1.3 billion U.S. dollars of revenue in hair transplantation alone in 2020, making the total turnover to hit 2.5 billion dollars, according to the chairman.

“2020 has been a year when the world has been locked down due to the pandemic that made people overwhelmed and depressed,” Terziler continued, noting that aesthetic treatments started to give more happiness than before.

“Therefore, this tendency lured many foreigners to Turkey, a country, which has long been holding an unrivaled position in terms of health tourism in the region and Europe,” he noted.

In 2020, those who arrived in the country for health purposes were mostly from European countries, including the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France, and Belgium, the chairman said. Aesthetic treatments and cosmetic surgeries are the most demanded health services in Turkey.

In the upcoming period, Turkey will seek to attract more people from the Asian region, according to Terziler.

“Health tourism will continue to contribute to the total exports of the country, uninterrupted, with new travelers from new markets,” he said.