Tourism mentality has been in a change in the world in recent
years. The term "medical tourism" as a part of
"alternative tourism" has been taking part also in
Turkey. Especially the diversity of natural resources such as
thermal waters and investments in the medical sector have been the
main factors on development of the medical tourism in Turkey.
According to the statistics, the number of foreign tourists which
have traveled to Turkey for medical purposes has been increasing
year for year. It is expected to develop the healthcare tourism in
Turkey until 2017.
Legal reforms and incentives in healthcare tourism
As is known, the investment amount in medical sector has been
increasing in Turkey and healthcare system has been modernized in
accordance with the international standards. These developments
were not only in healthcare mechanism, but there have also been
legal reforms regarding the healthcare tourism. The medical tourism
investments are supported within the frame of related legislation.
Accordingly, the healthcare organizations and medical tourism
companies are supported with the financial incentives concerning
market penetration, patient transfer, promotion abroad and other
advertising activities. Moreover, due to a legal reform in
Corporate Tax Law, the healthcare tourism companies are subject to
corporate tax reduction under certain conditions.
Free healthcare zones: A medical tourism project in Turkey and
its practice in the world
In order to make Turkey an attractive area also regarding the
medical tourism sector and to increase the foreign investments in
medical sector in Turkey, the establishment of free healthcare
zones has come to the fore since 2011. Free healthcare zones are
based on the Free Trade Zones Law and on the Decree Law No. 663
which regulates that the principles and conditions of these zones
may be determined by the Council of Ministers. Within the frame of
their establishment, the Ministry of Health has been working on the
legislation on Free Healthcare Zones. Pursuant to the Report on
Free Healthcare Zones, these zones may be divided regarding their
subjects such as Medical Tourism and Thermal Tourism. It is
expected to provide incentives to the investors in these zones and
to provide services especially to foreign visitors.
How may free zones be defined according to the Free Zones
Free zones may be defined as zones that are located in country
borders and regarded as outside of customs areas and that are not
or partly subject to commercial and financial laws of the
related country. As is known, free zones provide numerous
advantages to the investors such as tax reductions, tax exemptions,
social security prime exemptions, infrastructure facilities,
minimized bureaucracy and these zones are accessible to the foreign
investors. According to the Foreign Direct Investments Law, foreign
and domestic investors are treated equally.
An example for the established free healthcare zones in the
world is The Free Healthcare Zones in Dubai. Dubai Healthcare City
is the first healthcare zone in the world which has been
established in 2002 and has been put into operation in 2006. The
main purposes of establishment of these zones have been to develop
the real estate sector, to increase the medical investments in
It is planned to establish thermal tourism facilities,
healthcare towns, healthcare technocities within the frame of these
zones. Accordingly, the establishment of such zones will contribute
to the development of other sectors at the same time. Moreover,
these zones will be established close by the big cities in order to
provide easy access for the visitors to these zones. It is planned
to enact a related regulation on free healthcare zones and these
zones are planned to be established in 2014. If the development
potential of Turkey and above mentioned incentives are regarded,
realization of such investment projects will make Turkey an
attractive area for foreign and domestic investors also in
healthcare tourism sector.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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