People, Travel

Health Tourism Growing

Health Tourism Growing
Health Tourism Growing

The number of tourists traveling to Iran for advanced medical attention has grown by almost 40% in the past five years, according to a board member of the Tehran-based International Health Services Association.

“The rise in the number of health tourists has coincided with improvements in healthcare services, with more than 70% of tourists expressing complete satisfaction with the quality of care they received,” Dr. Abdullah Younesi was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

High cost of private treatment and low quality health systems in countries in the region means there is a demand for medical services available in Iran. Those from Islamic countries are particularly attracted to Iran as they feel more safe and satisfied than in Arab or Asian countries offering similar services.

Geographical proximity, hot and cold mineral springs in various parts of the country as well as low-cost and high quality health services in the fields of fertility treatment, stem cell treatment, dialysis, heart surgery, cosmetic surgery and eye surgery are contributing to new opportunities in Iran’s health tourism — a growth industry in many countries.

“Despite having to compete with Turkey and the UAE, the fact that more people are opting to travel to Iran for medical attention is a good sign,” Younesi noted.

Iranian officials have put a lot of stock in the potential for medical tourism to help boost the economy and help create jobs.

The Health Ministry, in cooperation with Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, is set to launch an English-language website in the near future which allows potential foreign patients to directly apply for medical tourism visas. The ministry says the website will speed up the visa process and allow it to monitor the process of the patients’ treatment.

Furthermore, healthcare facilities must be licensed in order to admit medical tourists. Of the 270 hospitals in Iran active in health tourism, 125 centers have so far acquired licenses from the Health Tourism Strategic Council, which comprises members of the foreign and health ministries, ICHHTO and the Islamic Republic of Iran Medical Council. Formed in early 2015, the council sets rules and regulations for health tourism providers.

According to Masoud Soltanifar, head of ICHHTO, Iran’s annual revenue from health tourism is between $400 million and $500 million, which is expected to reach $2.5 billion in the foreseeable future.

According to a report last month by Big Market Research, the global medical tourism market is expected to reach $143 billion by 2022.