Eye surgery, hair transplants driving Turkey’s health tourism sector
Around 750,000 tourists traveled to Turkey last year for health tourism, with eye surgery and hair transplants being the most common procedures undergone by visitors.
Each year, around 100,000 people travel to Turkey for hair transplants; the majority of who are from Arab countries.Similarly, more than 25,000 patients come to Turkey for eye surgery, the majority of them Europeans.
Emin Çakmak, the president of Turkey’s Health Tourism Development Council, said the profits per patient in health tourism is significantly high.
“In 2015, the profits from health tourism amounted to $5.8 billion,” Çakmak said, adding that the problems currently faced by the tourism sector should make participants in the industry focus more on alternative areas, such as thermal and health tourism, both of which have high added value.
A patient visiting Turkey for a hair transplant spends at least $1,500, while the costs associated with eye surgery, organ transplants and heart surgery are much higher.
For eye surgery, a patient spends between $3,500 and $5,000 compared to $30,000 and $120,000 for organ transplants. Çakmak stressed that the Arab market is an important target, saying,
“We need to draw more patients [to Turkey] for organ transplants in addition to hair transplants and eye surgery.”
The reason that people choose Turkey as their destination for hair transplants is the high quality and relatively low cost of the surgery.
Compared to the U.S. and the U.K., where hair transplants run as high as $25,000, the TL 5,000 (approximately $1,900) price tag for the same procedure in Turkey is considered relatively low among patients.
Those seeking a hair transplant mainly hail from Middle Eastern countries as well as Germany, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya, bringing revenue to the health tourism sector as well as the tourism sector overall, with many of them vacationing in Turkey with family during the recovery process.
Besides Turkey, India and Thailand see the most demand for hair transplant operations with Turkey receiving more hair transplant patients than any other country worldwide.