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Medical Tourism Perspectives – Turkey Plans to Intensify Activities

Medical market of Turkey becomes more attractive for Georgia. Our country has huge potential for medical tourism development, but investment inflows remain unimportant anyway.

Mainly dental clinics are active in this direction. According to specialists, Georgia has potential to use the experience of neighboring Turkey and achieve certain success on medical tourism market.

Over the past period, Turkey has intensified efforts on global medical tourism market. The country  plans to occupy leading positions. This is not an only objective. State governance and corresponding organizations take important steps in this respect. Along with private organizations and companies, three key state offices — healthcare, tourism and economy ministries are involved in implementing these plans.

Over the past 5 years, Turkey has made important investments in this direction and built both new and modern clinics with campuses and carried out important technological re-equipment of medical clinics.

Turkish Healthcare Tourism Council (THTC) is one the offices that is oriented on medical tourism. THTC was founded in 2005 and it is one of the major organizations in the world health sector. It carries out important marketing projects worldwide. Along with marketing, the organization invites heath workers to workshops, holds tours for them and introduce medical tourism offers of Turkey.

Medical tourism became particularly popular in Turkey over the past 6-7 years. During this period the country has managed to occupy the third place among world countries in terms of medical tourism. Annual market growth totaled 40%. In 2016,  750 000 tourists arrived in Turkey from 144 countries for medical services and total revenues  amounted to 5.8 billion USD.

The organization registers 375 members and owns 151 offices in 90 countries. It has representations in 3 cities of Georgia — Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi.

The organization founder Emin Cakmak told CBW that Georgia has got good potential for medical tourism development and Turkey gives a good sample in this respect, even more so the world has becomes opener and customers makes choice in not only Europe and the USA. They seek alternative. «Turkey is one of the most important tourism directions for Georgians, who have health problems and seek countries for treatment. Turkey is the country that will offer best services to them. The statistics is growing.

Over the past years, number of those seeking medical services from Georgia grows, because Turkey has several important advantages as compared to Georgia: It is a neighboring country with visa-free regime. Governments have good neighborhood relations and Turkey providers comparatively cheaper and easier opportunity for top-quality medical services.

Air communication between Turkey and Georgia enables to ensure easy and comfortable transportation», Cakmak said.

Georgia is an important market for Turkey. Besides attracting Georgian patients, joint business and investment projects may be also implemented. A lot of Turkish companies operate in Georgia and there are genuine samples, when Turkish businessmen make investments in Georgia’s medical sector, he said.

«Georgia provides open market, in not only specific direction, and it is important that Georgian government is interested in health sector development».

There is huge competition on medical tourism global market. «If you do not make investments in re-equipment of technologies, they change very quickly and you will retard and will not be able to succeed. At the same time, qualified health workers and their training are necessary. Over the past 5 years, medical sector of Turkey drew 30 billion USD investments», Cakmak said and added that President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has the ambition that Turkey have the best medical offers worldwide. The country makes focus on 2 special directions — healthcare and education, Cakmak said.

Turkey has genuinely ambitious plans. Under the current plan, by 2023,  new modern standard clinics will open in 22 cities in addition, while medical service tourists will reach 2 million persons. Investments volume will hit 20 billion USD. Projects are being implemented under public-private partnership (PPP) model.

«Several years ago people were leaving for Europe and the USA. Now this tendency has changed. Over the past years, revolutionary decisions in Turkey have advanced our country considerably. Today even in the USA patients seek the same category medical services for low prices», the THTC founder noted.

The organization is open for everybody, who wants information exchange and strives for wider knowledge. To this end, THTC provides active workshops for them and tours for sharing experience. The organization has hosted Georgian doctors and clinic managers in Tbilisi. Medical tourism workshop in Tbilisi was held under B2B format.

The Georgian medical sector representatives managed to use experience of Turkish companies. Several Georgian companies received invitation from Turkish companies to the clinic, where they will be able to receive information about activity and plans of the Turkish clinic.

Be Free company is an exclusive partner of Turkish Healthcare Travel Council, which offers preferential tariffs to Georgian patients in Turkey.

Be Free travel company opened 6 months ago, as a subsidiary of Wonderland travel company in Georgia, which, at the same time, represents Turkish Healthcare Travel Council in Georgia.

BE FREE is oriented on medical tourism and its objective is to refer patients to various leading clinics of Turkey.

Turkish Healthcare Travel Council operation is based on online regime. Documentation is filled out in online regime and we receive answers in 7 days.

Documents uploaded in online regime are sent in automatic regime to corresponding clinics of Turkey and this process is carried out by the system itself. Patients’ documents are sent to at least 15-20 clinics in Turkey and this fact points to top-quality services.

After reception of answers and offers from Turkish clinics, patients take decisions themselves. Patients have to pay 10% of total treatment costs in Georgia, while 90% must be paid in Turkey, in due clinic.

It should be noted that in April 2017,  Antalia hosted Hestourex, international world congress in healthcare, sports and tourism. Turkey notified the world about its success through this exhibition. Georgian  doctors and companies have taken part in the event. A major part of similar tours are mainly financed by Turkish government with the aim to expand the ratio of Turkey on medical tourism market.