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Turkey: An agreement on health tourism was signed by the Ministry of Trade and Foreign Affairs

Service Exporters’ Association (HIB) has been authorized to provide visa facilitation for patients coming from abroad in order to develop health tourism.

The “Health Visa Cooperation Protocol” between the ministries of Commerce and Foreign Affairs regarding the authorization of the HIB at the stage of accepting the application of international patients’ health visas was signed at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Commerce. Deputy Minister of Trade Mustafa Tuzcu, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yavuz Selim Kiran and Chairman of HIB and THY Board of Directors Ilker Ayci attended the ceremony.

In his speech at the ceremony, Kiran said that they have been working with relevant institutions for a long time for this step taken in health tourism. Indicating that the health tourism cake in the world is growing rapidly and Turkey will also evaluate the opportunities in this field, Kiran drew attention to the successes in the field of health during the new type of coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic. Kiran stated that Turkey will now transfer this capacity in health to humanity. Pointing out that it is important to quickly issue health visas to patients who want to be treated in Turkey, Kiran said:

“With this understanding, we have implemented the so-called ‘S type’ model in Iraq and Libya. We have seen that this model is not enough to bring opportunities in the world to Turkey. Now we are taking steps to expand this model to the whole world under the roof of HIB. As soon as a patient in the world shows us his appointment via HIB, they will have come to our country with his/her attendants within 48 hours at the latest. We have to increase the share of our country in health tourism. There are also many steps in the fields of education and sports tourism. Every share to be taken from the health tourism cake will be recorded as income for our country.”

Kiran stated that no matter where the patient is in the world, the process of appointment, approval of the appointment and issuance of visas from health providers and HIB will be completed in 48 hours with the established information system.

“NEW SUPPORT INSTRUMENTS WILL BE IMPLEMENTED”

Tuzcu, Deputy Minister of Commerce, also stated that Turkey has become a leading brand in fields such as contracting, software, film-TV series, technical consultancy and logistics, as well as exporting goods, and said that the country’s goal is to be one of the top 10 economies in all sectors in service exports. Reminding that the General Directorate of International Service Trade was established within the Ministry, Tuzcu said that there are very few examples of this general directorate in the world. Tuzcu stated that the general directorate wanted to put into effect new support instruments for the sectors within the scope of service exports.

Pointing out that Turkey hosts health tourism patients from Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as its own patients, Tuzcu said; “We aim to increase the number of our patients, which has reached 1 million in the last 10 years, much higher, to increase the currently measured foreign currency inflow of more than $1 billion, to over $3 billion by 2023.”

“THE BIGGER LEAP WILL BE MADE”

THY Chairman of the Board Ayci stated that Turkey is the preferred country in terms of health tourism with its experienced and trained human resources, technological infrastructure, appropriate treatment costs and ease of access, and made the following assessment:

“We observe that many people who come for treatment purposes, are satisfied with the service they receive, and leave our country with a good experience, come back to our country for business or tourism purposes in the following years. It is possible to increase the added value created by the sector with the different tourism products we will offer to the visitors. With the normalization, we observe that there will be a rapid increase in the number of visitors to our country for health tourism. Turkey has the sector that provides the best healthcare services in the world. The number of patients, which approached 700 thousand in 2019, decreased slightly in 2020 and remained below 600 thousand. Now we see that we passed 500 thousand in 8 months. Even this year, we see that the 2019 figures will be exceeded despite the pandemic. Health tourism, which we see will exceed 700 thousand already, is facing demand even ahead of 2019 figures. This means that our health tourism has the potential to achieve greater leaps in 2022 and 2023.”

Ayci stated that with the protocol, HIB will take part in issuing visas to health tourism visitors and certain responsibilities will be transferred to the union, and that the way for service exports will be further paved.

Answering the questions of the journalists after the ceremony, Ayci stated that as a union, they will ensure the acceleration of health visas and said:

“We will review the visa requests that come to us within 24 hours and forward them to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since the Ministry will also finalize it within 24 hours, the examination of the health tourist who shows his appointment with the health institution will be completed within 48 hours, his documents will be looked at, and this will be accelerated thanks to the examinations made in digital environments. People will be able to come to the country very quickly.”

Ayci emphasized that it is planned to start receiving visa applications in a very short time after the necessary preparations are completed after the protocol.

After the speeches, the “Health Visa Cooperation Protocol” was signed between the Ministries of Trade and Foreign Affairs and the Service Exporters’ Association.

Source: Sabah / Translated by Irem Yildiz

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