Iran Medical Tourism’s Actual Revenue Near $1 Billion

Iran Medical Tourism’s Actual Revenue Near $1 BillionIran Medical Tourism’s Actual Revenue Near $1 Billion
Those who travel to Iran for plastic surgery and other health services are not registered as medical tourists

Iran's revenue from health tourism in the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2017) is nearly double the $500 million commonly reported in the media.

Speaking to ISNA, Mohammad Ali Fayyazi, secretary of Health Tourism Strategic Council, said 150,000 medical tourists visited Iran last year.

"The figure only refers to tourists who traveled to Iran for medical purposes and applied for the relevant visa," he said.

However, he said there are plenty of people who travel to Iran for plastic surgery and other health services, but are not registered as medical tourists.

"They either don't apply for a health tourism visa or hospitals don't keep the patients' details, so their data never makes it to the Health Ministry," Fayyazi said.

"This is why [health tourism officials] estimate the country's actual revenue from the sector to be around $1 billion."

The last time Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization released official figures pertaining to health tourism was in 2013, when Iran reportedly earned $1.2 billion.

All figures reported since then were by officials, and not the organization itself, which explains the discrepancies. For instance, it was reported that 105,000 health tourists had traveled to Iran last year, not the 150,000 announced by Fayyazi. Most of the tourists came from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Persian Gulf littoral countries.

Based on the Sixth Economic Development Plan (2017-22), Iran is projected to attract between 500,000 and 600,000 medical tourists every year. However, some officials have questioned whether this target is feasible.

Iran’s ultimate goal is to earn $25 billion a year through tourism by 2025, around $2.5 billion of which will come from medical tourism. The Health Tourism Strategic Council comprises representatives of health and foreign ministries, the Medical Council of Iran and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

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