By Maysam Bizaer for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Tourism is nowadays at the core of attention of many governments across the world because of its major contribution to social and economic development. As the World Tourism Organization states, the business volume of tourism equals and sometimes surpasses that of crude oil exports.
Such facts, along with possessing numerous tourism attractions — including UNESCO-designated World Heritage sites — have prompted Iran to step up efforts to boost its tourism industry, particularly under President Hassan Rouhani.
To achieve this aim, the Rouhani administration has taken measures that mainly focus on creating better conditions to attract foreign tourists in addition to showcasing Iran’s historic and natural attractions.
In this respect, the development of medical and health tourism has been put on the agenda on the grounds that the country enjoys diverse climate conditions, natural resources such as hot and cold mineral springs, and different types of medicinal herbs. Geographical proximity along with high-quality medical services at low cost in comparison with developed and regional countries have also contributed to reasons behind the government’s decision to bolster medical and health tourism.
In this vein, inclusive measures — such as holding medical tourism exhibitions in other countries and signing memorandums of understanding with 32 countries to host representatives from Iran’s leading company (HEGTA) in charge of health tourism to help facilitate travel of foreigners to Iran for medical purposes — have been taken. The holding company, affiliated with Iran’s Social Security Organization, is also conducting a major medical tourism plan that in its first phase involves the participation of 22 hospitals — five of which are private.