Turkey’s health tourism expects recovery in 2nd half of 2021

– Turkey’s health tourism sector plans to start reversing pandemic-related losses in the second half of this year, a sector representative said Monday.

“Feverish efforts will be exerted to heal the sector’s pandemic wounds as of June,” Servet Terziler, head of the Turkish Health Tourism Association (TUSATDER), told Xinhua.

Turkey had declared more than two weeks’ full lockdown between April 29 and May 17 to curb the rising COVID-19 cases.

“When the lockdown ends on May 17, I think our industry will start to take a serious leap forward and compensate its losses,” he said.

According to Terziler, 2021 figures of the sector still tend to follow a decreasing trend compared with 2019 but are considered “normal” under pandemic conditions.

The TUSATDER revealed that the health tourism’s share was recorded as 3 billion dollars in 2019, and 125,000 foreign health tourists visited Turkey during the first quarter of 2021.

“However, when we look at 2019, we see that the number of people coming to Turkey only for hair transplantation was between 700,000 and 750,000,” said Terziler.

The chairman noted that tourists who preferred Turkey for treatment this year mostly were from European countries, such as the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Belgium.

“They favored hair transplantation the most, followed by aesthetic operations and dental and eye treatments,” he stated.

Turkey has been praised for its “devoted human resources, good healthcare, intensive care unit infrastructures, and general health services,” said Terziler.

In 2019, Turkey’s tourism revenues hit a record high of 34.5 billion U.S. dollars with more than 45 million foreign visitors. In 2020, however, the country’s losses hit 70 percent due to the pandemic.

The country has administered more than 23.4 million COVID-19 jabs since it launched a mass vaccination program in mid-January with priority to healthcare workers.

According to the data released on the health ministry’s website, more than 14 million people have received their first doses, and over 9.4 million others have taken their second shots.