Regional Meeting on Medical Tourism

Regional Meeting  on Medical TourismRegional Meeting  on Medical Tourism

The 3rd Special Regional Meeting on Medical Tourism of Eastern and Northeastern Provinces held at Hotel Pardisan in Mashhad on January 8, discussed tourism in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Persian Gulf littoral countries, and sought solutions to improve medical tourism in Khorasan Razavi Province.

Officials from provinces of Mazandaran, Golestan, North Khorasan, Sistan-Baluchestan, and Semnan attended, IRNA reported.

Three panels were assembled: medical tourism marketing targeting Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia; problems and solutions in the marketing for medical tourism targeting Persian Gulf littoral countries; and problems involving medical tourism stakeholders to identify shortfalls and solutions.


Iran is prepared to waive visa or facilitate easy visa procedures for tourists of neighboring countries, should the gesture be reciprocal, deputy foreign minister for consular, parliamentary and Iranian expatriates’ affairs Hassan Qashqavi said.

Following Kuwait’s initiative to waive visa for Iranian tourists, “Iran will do the same for Kuwaiti citizens”, Qashqavi said in the concluding ceremony of the meeting.

Health visa Fee is reduced to half the charge of an ordinary visa, which he attributed to Iran’s intention to facilitate incoming trips.

Iran is a safe destination for foreign tourists as there have been no significant security concerns for foreigners over the past several years.

There are some with ill intentions who disguise themselves as tourists. They will get what they deserve. “Their mischief will not deter us from protecting and respecting foreign tourists,” he added.

Last year (started March 21, 2014), 2 million Iraqi tourists traveled to Iran. Iraqis pay $17 for a visa, while visa to Iraq costs between $40 to $60 for Iranian travelers. “We still insist on interacting with our neighbors.”

  Khorasan Razavi

While Mashhad attracts a considerable number of pilgrims, the city is also famous for medical services it offers.

Due to the scientific expertise, infrastructure, facilities, and equipment, Mashhad will soon be a hub for medical tourism according to the medical tourism plan devised for Khorasan Razavi, another participant at the event, Alireza Rashidian, governor of the province said.

He further added that to promote medical tourism, Khorasan Razavi needs to upgrade the services of its medical science universities to host pilgrims and tourists who visit the province for both religious and medical purposes.

He advocated foreign investment, reduction in tariff rates, and encouraging packages for investors to promote the medical tourism of the province.

Brokers and intermediaries are a major problem in the medical tourism, as they are in other fields too. An adequate monitoring is what the industry needs to get rid of the profiteers, Rashidian added.

Thanks to oil wealth, “the style, prevalent in management of national projects, is similar to that of the affluent classes who spend without accountability. But success goes to those who plan meticulously. It takes a lot of promotion and publicizing to attract tourists. We need plans, like the ancient Iranian merchants did, who flourished in China and Florence,” Rashidian said.

The government should hold back and let private and charity hospitals take the lead in promoting medical tourism, Qazizade Hashemi, member of parliament representing Mashhad said. He believes that Iranian experts are more proficient than those of India and Turkey, but this expertise has not found its rightful place.

Lack of a proper administrative and treatment process is among the major faults in Iran’s medical tourism, Hashemi added. The hospitals do not provide adequate post-op and rehabilitation services.

Some 150,000 foreign tourists receive medical services in Mashhad each year, head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism (ICHHTO) Rajabali Labbaf Khaniki said.Razavi hospital alone provided medical services to over 50,000 patients last year, according to the hospital’s public relations office. Including the average lodging expenses of the foreign patients, the province’s medical tourism brings in a total of $750 million.

Iran has enough potential to be ranked first in medical tourism in the Islamic world. Due to its abundant capacities, Khorasan Razavi, especially Mashhad, is set to acquire that status.

Currently, about 170 tourism institutions are active in Khorasan Razavi. The province provides fast transport via railway and air. Modern and traditional medical facilities, and proximity to Central Asia and Afghanistan has made the province a strategic center for medical tourism, Khaniki added.