The Growth of Medical Tourism in Turkey in Recent Years


Over the years, a large number of people have traveled from their home countries to foreign nations to obtain necessary healthcare services. The aspect is common, especially where the country of origin does not have the required facilities to enable the treatment and management of specific disease conditions. In most cases, individuals evaluate various factors such as quality, cost, culture, and availability of services to determine whether to seek medical care from outside the country. The increasing movement of persons to foreign countries serves a significant economic role for the host nations. Following the growing aspect of medical tourism, countries such as Turkey have formulated appropriate practices to ensure they benefit from health tourists. Generally, medical services that prompt people to travel abroad include cosmetic surgery, tissue and organ transplant, treatment of fertility, dental care, treatment of cancer, and other types of surgery. The patients, apart from seeking care services, are further influenced by the beautiful scenery found in foreign countries. Recently, Turkey has been experiencing a high influx of medical tourists that requires various types of healthcare services due to prices, technology, and quality of services.

Factors that Promote Growth of Medical Tourism in Turkey

Turkey has registered significant growth in its medical tourism industry in recent years. The advancement in the sector has made the country to be recognized by the majority of people from other nations as a preferred health tourist destination. According to Sag and Zengul (2019), the rapid expansion in the sector is majorly influenced by the availability of experienced healthcare professionals. The authors iterate that Turkey has a large number of qualified practitioners, both in public and private hospitals, capable of providing effective care services to patients. This aspect attracts the majority of people seeking quality healthcare services to visit the country. In order to ensure the sustainability of professionalism in the sector, the Turkish government has formed a number of healthcare committees responsible for regulating and overseeing quality compliance by the facilities offering training services. By having such measures in place, the country has managed to produce some of the best care providers in the world, giving it a competitive advantage over other nations. Therefore, with a high level of human skills, patients from abroad choose to visit Turkey for medical services.

Similarly, the need to remain competitive in global medical tourism prompted the Turkish government to undertake various initiatives, including developing the quality of hospitals in the country. The national government opted to allow private care providers to venture into the market. This aspect created significant competition leading to the establishment of well-equipped health facilities capable of serving the needs of the community. Furthermore, the country improved its level of care provision, which allowed it to receive accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), an internationally recognized index for quality healthcare. The rating made Turkey considered by most health tourists a preferred destination to obtain medical services. Such achievements played a fundamental in making Turkey’s medical tourism industry flourish effectively.

The concept of medical tourism entails movement across a country’s border to another nation to access healthcare services not effectively or unavailable from the home country. In most cases, states have complicated procedures that people must meet before being allowed to visit a given nation. However, in the case of Turkey, foreign individuals find it easier to access the country. The Turkish authority does not impose strict rules and unlimited requirements that can prevent a person from visiting the nation (Kamassi, Abd Manaf, and Omar, 2020). Instead, any individual intending to tour the country is expected to have E-visa for entrance. The process of obtaining the E-visa is more straightforward since people can apply online and receive certification allowing them to enter the country. Thus, the system makes it promising for patients needing healthcare services because the likelihood of them traveling to turkey is high, and they can obtain the respective treatments in time. In other words, the ease of accessing the E-visa prompts the majority of foreigners to choose Turkey over other nations providing similar services. The aspect enables the country to receive more visitors annually, making its health tourism sector perform effectively.

The country has further invested intensively in its healthcare technology. In the current world, various sectors are dominated by the aspect of digitalization which has ensured improved outcomes. Turkey’s healthcare system is not exceptional in this development. Most of the country’s hospitals contain first-class state of technology that facilitates the provision of effective and efficient care services (Hafizan et al., 2018). For instance, Turkey has a significant number of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computerized Tomography (C.T.), Linear-Accelerators, Ultrasound, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Brachytherapy, and Tomotherapy (Khaksarshahmirzadi et al., 2021). The mentioned technologies are essential in enhancing the treatment of chronic diseases and other types of conditions that require special examination. Such advancements are limited in underdeveloped and some developing countries; hence people seeking their services are forced to travel to nations where they can access them. The focus and improvement in technology in the country have remained a core contributor to the increasing number of health tourists visiting Turkey.

Furthermore, the cost associated with obtaining healthcare services is making the country’s tourism sector grow significantly. In Turkey, hospital charges are low compared to Western countries. Patients from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East are attracted to the low prices charged for providing care services in Turkey. The healthcare facilities offer quality treatment at relatively lower prices as compared to other nations providing similar medical practices. Based on the research findings of Turkey’s Ministry of Health (MoH), approximately 700,000 patients from across the world visited the country to seek medical services. The majority of the individuals chose Turkey due to its economic charges as compared to other states. In addition, the government, through its Finance Ministry, opted to enact Value Added Tax (VAT) regulations to influence the medical tourism industry. The approach targeted foreigners, whereby patients seeking medical services will not pay VAT in the country. The aim is to cut costs for individuals and to continue attracting more patients into the country. The practices focused on lowering the charges have made Turkey an outstanding preferred country by most health tourists.

Similarly, the government of Turkey opted to exempt earnings from medical tourism from the renowned corporate tax. The approach was aimed at private hospitals to encourage them to continue bringing international patients into the country. In 2017, the strategy enabled the government to increase the flow of health tourists by a significant percentage. The measure made approximately 1 million patients visit Turkey. The removal of corporate tax created a conducive business environment and opportunity for the players to venture. The private healthcare facilities took advantage of the offers and enhanced their practices to attract more foreign patients.

Upon realizing the niche in the medical sector that includes high charges on consumers for different medical services, Turkey opted to diversify its healthcare services to accommodate the needs of various international patients. The approach was geared towards ensuring the country receives a large number of health tourists seeking different treatments. For instance, Turkey has expanded its medical tourism into sub-domains such as abortion tourism, reproductive tourism, and tissue transplant tourism. The creation of heterogeneity in service provision thus allows people to come for various aspects depending on their health needs.

Furthermore, individuals in need of fertility treatment further find their place in the country’s health facilities (De la Hoz-Correa, Muñoz-Leiva, and Bakucz, 2018). Therefore, having a wide range of facilities offering different medical practices in Turkey has made the country’s health tourism grow significantly in the past years. In addition, the advancement and evolution in terminology have well promoted the diversity of service providers. Turkey’s healthcare sector contains a large number of practitioners who are specialized in dealing with different terminologies (Hyder, Rydback, Borg, and Osarenkhoe, 2019). The facet is making the industry flourish because the elements of socio-ethical and policy issues are adhered to hence creating an effective work environment that enhances the patient’s satisfaction.

In addition, the urgency of medical conditions requires facilities that are ready to offer quick and immediate attention to the patients. The aspect is well practiced in Turkey, and the providers do not delay services to their clients in dire need. The practice is vital in influencing consumers from international markets. People require fast medical services, and the fact that they can obtain such in Turkey, they choose the country over others. The country maintains the practice following its investment in the public and private sectors, making it have an adequate number of health care facilities as well as practitioners ready and willing to attend to the patients. The aspect guarantees tourists easy access to medical services in the country.

Moreover, apart from the medical-related factors, the attractive nature of Turkey has played a significant role in influencing health tourists into the country. The presence of beautiful sceneries and exotic lifestyles, especially in Istanbul, makes the majority of health tourists choose Turkey as their destination. The aspect is common, especially for international patients seeking medical attention, which is not urgent. For example, individuals who require fertilization treatment may opt to visit turkey to obtain the services as well as go to different places for an epic view.

Furthermore, some of the developed countries, such as the U.S., have placed travel restrictions on most Asian people, especially Arabs, following the stereotype of terrorism associated with their culture. The barrier is making such a group of people choose Turkey as their destination country to obtain medical services (Çapar and Aslan, 2020). With such measures in place, Turkey is gaining a high number of Asian patients, especially from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and Iraq. The flow is significantly promoting the growth of Turkey’s medical tourism sector. Furthermore, the country is close to most of the Arab nations, making it easier for patients from such states to visit it and access improved care services.

In addition, the Turkish government has adopted different approaches to luring international patients to visit the country. For instance, the country’s authority has been encouraging the medical tourism sector through particular advertisements, including the use of Turkish Airlines to provide significantly discounted airline tickets. The offer is given to international patients with a patient admission document issued by any of Turkey’s certified health facilities. The technique is aimed at lowering the health tourist cost they are supposed to incur to access the services. It makes it easier for such individuals to reach the country, thus encouraging them to continue seeking services from Turkey. Similarly, various luxurious hotels and accommodation facilities in the country have collaborated with healthcare facilities in the country to offer health tourists better packages for their patients (Heydari, Yousefi, Derakhshani, and Khodayari-Zarnaq, 2019). Such lucrative offerings and incentives play a vital role in influencing people to seek medical services in the country.

In health care delivery, the satisfaction of patients depends on the nature of services and the patient-doctor relationship. In Turkey, the people are accommodative and value one another (Kurçer and Civelek, 2022). This aspect makes their culture welcoming and caring, which is essential for patients who need close attention from the providers. Most international patients prefer traveling from their home countries to receive practical and patient-centered care services in the country. The high level of satisfaction is an essential aspect that facilitates the growth of medical tourism in Turkey. Furthermore, the practitioners value ethical practices making them more reliable and trustworthy for service delivery.

Similarly, Arab health tourists are attracted by the similarity of religion and culture being practiced in the country. This aspect makes it easier for patients from Arab states to find it easier to interact and relate with Turkey’s care providers (Zarei and Maleki, 2019). Therefore, the individuals are enticed and choose Turkey as their destination for medical services. This implies that religion and freedom of interaction in Turkey are vital contributing factors to the growing medical tourism.

In the countries such as the U.S., the aspect of medical insurance coverage affects the majority and hinders them from receiving quality care services. Hospitals and other related clinics in the U.S. charge high prices to individuals who do not have active insurance coverage (Collins, Medhekar, Wong, and Cobanoglu, 2019). With such high costs, people tend to travel abroad to access similar offers, especially in countries that do not consider the issue of medical protection. Turkey is a reliable nation; the majority of patients who requires medical attention prefer seeking services from the country rather than in their home country. In other words, the restrictions and complications in other countries give Turkey an added advantage to grow and attract more health tourists.

Positive and Negative Aspects of Medical Tourism

The aspect of medical tourism plays a significant role in promoting patient satisfaction. Through the process, sick individuals are capable of accessing quality and patient-based services needed for their care outcome. Furthermore, it makes it easier for individuals to manage disease conditions that cannot be effectively controlled within the care facilities in the home country. Generally, most countries do not have the emerging sophisticated technology necessary to diagnose and treat chronic diseases such as cancer, thus being able to travel to countries having the high-tech impacts wellbeing of patients.

In addition, health tourism eliminates the burden associated with care charges in the home countries. People have the potential to travel abroad to seek medical services in countries that offer similar facilities at a reduced rate. In other words, the practice of medical tourism allows people to save and limit their expenditure on health coverage. In cases where insurance coverage does not protect the patient from a given disease condition, a person may opt to access the treatment from a different country that does not consider the aspect of medical insurance. Moreover, the practices ensure that patients receive urgent medical attention without having to wait longer. Patients, too, have the opportunity to access a range of procedures that meets their demands. Sometimes in the home countries, there are limited options for sick individuals to choose from. However, through medical tourism, patients will gain access to a variety of methods that they feel are suitable for their treatment process.

Apart from the health-related and cost issues, medical tourism is an essential aspect of the country’s economy. By improving the sector, Turkey’s government has recorded a significant improvement in its economic performance (Dang, Nguyen, Wang, Day, and Dang, 2020). The country is generating adequate revenue from the services its healthcare facilities offer to international patients. In addition, the incoming health tourists create a lucrative opportunity for other business organizations, such as hotels and restaurants in the country. Therefore, the facet of medical tourism promotes development by creating job opportunities for the citizens of Turkey (Suess, Baloglu, and Busser, 2018). With increasing income, people are able to improve their living standards.

Furthermore, medical tourism is essential for patients undergoing various forms of surgery as it promotes effective recovery. Health tourists have the potential to enjoy the climatic condition of the destination country. For example, international patients coming to Turkey for treatment can choose to traverse beautiful places in the nation as they wait for their full recovery. In other words, health tourism offers patients an excellent opportunity for vacation, which is fundamental for their healing process after receiving the intended medical attention.

Despite the positive impacts of medical tourism on both patients and the economy, the practice encompasses some significant shortfalls. For instance, patients seeking medical surgeries may find it challenging because they are required to undergo a routine check in the same care facility over a long duration. Supposing the doctors recommend that the ill individual stay longer, the person may be forced to incur additional costs to facilitate their accommodation in the country (Pereira, Malone, and Flaherty, 2018). This is unlike if the operation was done in the home country, where the patient could opt to visit the facility from their areas of residence. The aspect implies that patients are more likely to incur charges depending on their conditions and the needs of their respective physicians.

In medical practices, the likelihood of malpractice is high, and the patient might be affected. Even though most facilities provide insurance coverage against such unethical conduct, it is not easy for a foreigner to follow the rules and regulations in the host country (Boguszewicz-Kreft, Kuczamer-Kłopotowska, and Kozłowski, 2022). Therefore, any damages during the medication are less likely to be compensated, and thus the patient becomes disadvantaged in the process.

In addition, traveling from one country to another requires an individual to have enough capital. The expenditure even increases further, especially when the patients are required to have at least one relative to accompany them to the given country. Purchasing an air ticket for two people might be challenging leading to the need for more funds to facilitate the services. Furthermore, renting accommodation and other associated bills will require people to spend significant money to obtain the necessary services.


The rising costs of medical services, especially in developed countries, are prompting the majority of the people who cannot afford the services at the prevailing rates to seek alternative solutions from other countries. This aspect has contributed to the growing medical travel being experience across the world. The government of Turkey has managed to venture effectively into the sector, making the country one of the preferred countries by health tourists. Over the past years, Turkey has received a large number of people from different parts of the world in dire need of medical services. Being a performing industry, the authority formulated a number of incentives to encourage both public and private hospitals to offer efficient and reliable care services.

Furthermore, the country removed VAT for international patients to enable the reduced costs associated with care services. The aspect of medical practice has significant impacts, such as facilitating patient satisfaction with quality services. Moreover, the practice entails the element of vacation, which makes it enticing for patients and eases their recovery. However, the practice entails a number of challenges, such as possible medical malpractice that cannot be easily compensated due to limited knowledge about the legal issues in such countries.

Reference List

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