The Foreign Ministry has urged health tourists to apply for visas online and not fall for the tricks of profiteers.
“The fastest way to obtain a health tourism visa is to apply for it online,” Mojtaba Karimi, director of the Passport and Visa Office at the ministry, was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Iran issues visa on arrival at 10 of its international airports to citizens of over 180 countries. However, to develop its health tourism industry, it requires health tourists to apply for a “T Visa”, issued only to medical travelers. Iran says it will help it with key statistics, such as where most health tourists come from and what type of service they need.
“Despite our efforts, there are still some people who take advantage of those seeking medical care, bring them over to Iran and abandon them here,” he said, adding that this is particularly the case for Afghan health tourists.
To apply for an Iranian visa online, visit http://e_visa.mfa.ir. Visas are issued for up to 90 days.
Based on the sixth economic development plan (2017-22), Iran is projected to attract between 500,000 and 600,000 medical tourists every year. However, some officials have questioned whether that target is feasible.
There are no precise figures on the number of health tourists coming to Iran, but according to the Health Ministry, women of ages 45 to 65 make up the bulk of Iran’s inbound medical tourists.
Some 400 hospitals are active in the field of health tourism, but only 170 have been granted permits to launch an International Patients Department.
The high cost of private treatment and low quality health services in regional countries mean there is a demand for medical services available in Iran. Those from Muslim countries are particularly attracted to Iran, as they feel safer and more satisfied than in most Arab or Asian countries offering similar services.
According to tourism officials, the country’s annual revenue from health tourism is between $400-500 million, while the target is to reach $2.5 billion by 2025.
Originally published in The Financial Tribute