In spite of all the challenges facing Iran’s travel sector, medical tourism has been one of the most profitable and stable branches, thanks to the quality medical services that draws health tourists from regional countries, according to an official at Iran’s Medical Council.
“Nevertheless, the potentials of the sector have not been fully exploited due to lack of coordination between relevant organizations,” said Mohammad Jahangiri, the council’s deputy for supervision and planning, YJC reported.
To organize the country’s health tourism sector, a strategic council was formed last year comprising representatives of the health and foreign ministries, the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization
The Health Tourism Strategic Council has been able to instill discipline in the sector by regulating the institutions operating in this field.
“Hospitals or clinics that offer medical services to foreigners and travel agencies that attract and organize tours for health tourists must now receive official authorization from the strategic councils,” Jahangiri said. “They need to obtain permits from ICHHTO, the Health Ministry and Foreign Ministry.”
About 98 hospitals and 14 travel companies have so far been issued health tourism permits across the country.
He said Iran’s Tourism Development Association has also been formed by the council to help attract investment and garner support of related government entities.
The association is also responsible for promoting authorized centers and introducing them to both Iranians and foreigners.
The official said it will soon introduce health tourism service providers through a comprehensive online portal.
Jahangiri said health travel packages are being prepared in cooperation with tour operators.
The council is also envisioning educational programs for institutions keen to work in the sector.
In the health tourism scheme, priority is given to border regions due to their accessibility to neighboring countries.
“But other regions that have the potential for health tourism cannot be ignored and must be given due attention,” he said.
Iran’s annual revenue from medical tourism is between $400-500 million, which is expected to reach $2.5 billion in the foreseeable future.
According to a report earlier this year by Big Market Research, the global medical tourism market is expected to reach $143 billion by 2022.
It was reported in May that the number of tourists traveling to Iran for advanced medical services has grown by 40% in the past five years.