Medical tourist arrivals in the country has nearly doubled in the first three months of the current Iranian calendar year, corresponding to spring 2018, from a year earlier, said an official with the Ministry of Health.
Saeid Hashemzadeh who presides over the ministry’s medical tourism department told ISNA in an interview published on Sunday, “Based on official statistics, the country attracted over 300,000 medical travelers during the past Iranian calendar year [ended March 20].” He didn’t provide more details on the number of such visitors this year.
Generally, Iraq and Afghanistan constitute the lion’s share of medical tourists to Iran, he said, adding, “Mashhad, which embraces the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS), and Tehran, host the largest number of medical travelers.”
He explained that the surge, especially in number of Iraqi travelers, is dominantly derived by foreign currency rises in the country.
Over the past couple of months Iran’s economy is facing pressure from the re-imposition of U.S.-led sanctions.
Medical tourism could fetch Iran $7b annually
Iran has capacity to annually earn $7 billion in medical and health tourism, though the sector now brings in only one-seventh or even lesser of the sum, Mohammad Jahangiri who presides over a national center for developing health tourism said in May.
A total of 166 hospitals in Iran hold special licenses and meet standards in this field, Jahangiri stated.