Health tourism has existed for thousands of years in Europe, Iran, India and Asia. However, the term “health tourism” first appeared in 1973 by the International Union of Tourism Organization (IUTO). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is defined as “a good condition, physically, mentally and socially, and not simply the absence of disease or disability.” While health tourism can be considered as a planned trip to another place to maintain and restore physical or mental health. According to the type and function of services desired by the tourists, field experts divided health tourism into three categories into health tourism, wellness tourism, curative tourism, medical tourism
Types of health tourism:
1) Wellness Tourism: that travel to get rid of the pressures of daily life and to rejuvenate and not for treatment. In this type of tourism, the goal is not treatment and therefore medical agents are not present.
2) Curative Tourism: that travel to use natural resources (such as hot springs), to spend a period of recovery and of course under the supervision of a doctor.
3) Medical tourism: which is another type of health tourism, in which the traveler (patient) travels to use special medical services such as various surgeries and medical procedures in hospital centers.
Medical Tourism Index:
The Medical Tourism Index identifies three important factors as the main factor of medical tourism that allow a more accurate comparison to measure the attractiveness of a medical tourism destination, which are:
- Destination environment
- Medical tourism industry
Quality of facilities and services
The importance of health tourism
The importance of health tourism, like other dimensions and areas of tourism, has many benefits, especially economically. According to global statistics, health tourism revenue was $ 40 billion in 2004, up from $ 60 billion in 2006 and more than $ 100 billion in 2012 .Therefore, in addition to gaining foreign exchange resources, promoting medical tourism can provide many domestic benefits, including expanding medical facilities with world-class knowledge in the country, raising community health standards, raising living standards, creating jobs for local specialists
History of health tourism and its indicators:
The health tourism first, was proposed by the International Union of Tourism Organizations in 1973. And according to the UNWTO, health tourism is a travel which aim at improving and maintaining health care. Although health tourism was first defined in 1973, traveling abroad and finding quality health and wellness services are not a new phenomenon. In ancient Greece, for example, worshipers of Asclepius, (the god of Greco-Roman medicine), visited his temple at Epidaurus, where they were healed. Also, spa and public baths have long been popular destinations for people seeking medical treatment. In the seventeenth century, the rise of spa towns in attractive places in Europe such as the Pyrenees attracted wealthy people from all over Europe. In the following centuries, with the increase of travel and tourism, spas and health resorts in different countries of the world usually attracted customers from abroad.
Although medical tourism has evolved over time, medical tourism has existed for thousands of years in Europe, Iran, India and Asia. From the 18th to the 20th century, most wealthy patients from developing countries traveled to medical centers in Europe and the United States for medical treatment. This trend was reversed in the late 20th century. In the 21st century, the globalization of communication and transportation technologies, leads rich people to travel from developed countries to medical destinations in the developing countries, and recently it increased significantly.