The 17th TTI Izmir International Tourism Trade Fair and Congress, held in Izmir, also hosted the TTI Health 1st Health Tourism Fair. In the event, which attracted significant attention from industry representatives, a crucial panel titled “Supports in Health Tourism, Thermal, Geriatrics, and Wellness Tourism in Turkey” was organized.
Hüseyin Sağmak, Trade Specialist of the Ministry of Trade, mentioned in his opening speech at the event that the number of health tourists reached 1.2 million in 2022 and exceeded 1 million in the first 9 months of 2023. Highlighting Turkey’s success in health tourism, Sağmak stated that they achieved a revenue of 2.1 billion dollars in health exports in 2022.
Fair and Congress Details
Organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Trade, and hosted by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, the event took place with the support of TÜRSAB. Fairs held under the names TTI Izmir, TTI Health, and TTI Outdoor welcomed thousands of visitors. Along with the participation of tourism professionals from both domestic and international locations, buyer delegation programs and various panels were organized.
Buyer Delegations and B2B Meetings
Within the scope of TTI Izmir, 150 tourism professionals from 61 countries participated in the buyer delegation program, while TTI Health’s program saw the participation of 75 health tourism industry professionals from 24 countries. Buyer delegations engaged in B2B meetings with participants throughout the fair.
Panel: “Supports in Health Tourism, Thermal, Geriatrics, and Wellness Tourism in Turkey”
Elif Ural, a Member of the Board of Directors of TÜRSAB, moderated the panel organized during the event. The panel featured speakers such as Hüseyin Sağmak, Trade Specialist of the Ministry of Trade, Dr. Bülent Cinel, President of Izmir Health Tourism Association (IZSATU), and Tuncay Volkan Bayat, General Manager of Balçova Thermal Hotel.
Support from the Ministry of Trade for Health Tourism
Highlighting Turkey’s support for the health tourism sector, Trade Specialist Hüseyin Sağmak announced that as of 2023, the number of health tourists exceeded 1 million, and they achieved a revenue of 2.1 billion dollars in health exports. Sağmak emphasized the continued development of incentives in health tourism, stating that the sector played a significant role in closing the current account deficit.
The Future of Health Tourism and Turkey’s Role
Dr. Bülent Cinel, President of IZSATU, evaluated health tourism under four main categories: medical, thermal, SPA and wellness, and advanced age and disabled tourism. Cinel, noting the increased importance of healthy living and the economy worldwide after the pandemic, predicted that spending in health tourism would reach 8.5 trillion dollars by 2027. Cinel, disclosing Turkey’s total health tourism revenue as 10 billion dollars, emphasized the need for the country to brand itself in thermal and advanced age tourism through lobbying and promotional activities.
Turkey’s Leading Position in Thermal Tourism
Tuncay Volkan Bayat, General Manager of Balçova Thermal Hotel, highlighted Turkey’s potential in thermal tourism, mentioning that they have more than 500 healing waters and over 1,500 thermal spring areas. Bayat, attributing their success in thermal tourism to efforts directed towards Western European and Scandinavian countries, stated that the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Trade’s initiatives contributed to their sector. Emphasizing that thermal tourism should surpass medical tourism, Bayat stated that Balçova Thermal would continue to maintain its leading position in the industry.
The event created an important platform to discuss the role of health tourism in Turkey and its future in the sector.