Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Iranian tour leaders making good money from health tourism

Middlemen in Iran are making a fortune as they arrange trips to the country by foreign tourists coming here to both have fun and undergo medical treatment, especially beauty operations.

The top destination in Iran for health tourism is the northeastern city of Mashhad which hosts foreign tourists, especially Arab-speaking visitors, who mainly come here for plastic surgeries.

Outside local clinics you can see women with their noses in casts, suggesting they have undergone rhinoplasty, as well as men with bandaged heads, which shows they have had a hair implant operation.

But the point is, these foreign tourists are not alone. They are accompanied by tour leaders, who receive commissions between 10 to 50 percent of the operation cost.

That means tour leaders sometimes make as much money as, or even more money than the surgeons do.

And leaders are not the only people reaping the benefit of flourishing tourism industry in Iran.

Translators, travel agencies and clinics are all getting a share of the thriving business.
Officials say between 5,000 to 6,000 tour leaders are unofficially working in Mashhad at the moment.

This is while the number of licensed agencies working in the field of health tourism is rising as well, which could help cut out unauthorized middlemen.

Mashhad is also home to the holy Shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam, that attracts millions of pilgrims from around the country and outside.

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