Iran: optimism for 2022

Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, Iran aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025. The 2025 figure includes two million medical travellers – a tough but reachable target. Iran predicts that by 2022, tourism and medical tourism will return to 2019 numbers.

At the 5th International Health Congress of Islamic Countries, there was agreement that Iran medical tourism needs to rebuild global trust. Local experts argued that the level of Iran’s health security and vaccination against coronavirus should be advertised internationally to gain further trust from the global tourism and medical tourism markets.

The congress in Tehran brought together representatives, experts, travel insiders, and private investors from its member states to discuss ways to develop medical tourism.

Iran predicts that, by 2022, tourism and medical tourism will return to 2019 numbers. A key target is Iraq, as the country is developing links there with local medical travel agents.

A member of the Iranian Parliament has also called on Muslim countries to remove visa requirements for medical tourists to Iran and all 58 Muslim countries, which have a collective population of 2 billion including 50 countries being Muslim majority countries.

An exhibition was staged concurrently to the congress highlighting start-ups in medical tourism, sports tourism, curative and wellness tourism, rural and ecotourism, educational tourism, food tourism, medicine, and medical equipment, and health services.

One focus was on new technologies that relate to medical and health tourism, including tele-medicine and ways to strengthen start-ups to improve the value chain in health treatment and tourism.

Medical tourism in Islamic countries has a long history, but many Muslim countries are newcomers to modern global medical tourism. They see potential in rivalling more established Western destinations, and view the sector as a source of income.

Iran’s interest in medical tourism is not purely as a source of foreign currency. The country sees it as a tool and opportunity to represent the achievements and capabilities of the Islamic Republic in the medical field. Foreign patients also benefit, as they are offered affordable yet quality treatment services.