in: TOURISM STUDIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, Vilian KRYSTEV Sabriye ÇELIK UĞUZ,Recep EFE Erol KAPLUHAN, Editor, ST. KLIMENT OHRIDSKI UNIVERSITY PRESS, Sofija, pp.327-340, 2021
The factors such as the globalizing world and the relations between countries,
the facilitation of international transportation, the increase in financial
opportunities, the rising in the quality of health services in almost every part of
the world have ascended the rate of participation in health tourism in the world.
The needs arising from industrialization and urbanization also affect the
participation in health tourism positively. Therefore, the demand for health
tourism has increased. Health tourism can be defined as “individuals' visit to a
country out of their settlements where they live, in order to receive both
preventive, curative, rehabilitative and health-promoting services” in general
(SATURK, 2020). Throughout years, different regulations and studies have been
made on the classification of health tourism. Until recent years, health tourism
had been examined under three subtitles as medical, thermal, disabled, and elderly
tourism (Ünlüönen and Çeti, 2019: 113-114). In the studies have been carried out
lately, health tourism has been analyzed under five headings as medical tourism,
thermal tourism, wellness tourism, geriatric tourism, and disabled tourism
(Yıldırım Kaptanoğlu, Aydın, Acar, Seçer, & Pozanti, 2019: 34).
If it is mentioned about the current situation and future of health tourism;
while there are some strong aspects such as accessibility to faster and more
accurate information because of globalization and technological advancements,
and providing cheaper promotional costs, it is known that there are other points
that need to be improved such as auditing and reliability. As a result of the
developments, being in search of new markets and product diversity have arisen.
In the coming years, its popularity will increase in the light of the increasing
elderly population, ease of transportation and most importantly economic
opportunities. In the coming years, its popularity will increase in the light of the
increasing elderly population, ease of transportation and most importantly
economic opportunities (Kaya, Yıldırım, Karasuvaran & Özer, 2013: 5-6).
It seems that different concepts emerged with the intertwining of technology
and industry in health tourism, and they are prevailing in all parts of life. A new
era called "Technological Age”, or "Digital Age" has emerged and continues to
progress rapidly. People are now able to act quickly and instantaneously while
fulfilling their needs and trying to access any information. As a result, different
job descriptions, communication technologies, systemic changes, working
methods appeared (Yücel & İnan, 2020: 44).
The decrease in demand for intermediary services such as travel agencies or
tour operators because of digitalization may cause some tourism enterprise
initiatives in countries to fade. It is known that the opportunities provided to new
high value-added tourism services in the context of digitalization with updated
business partnerships will take shape in the distribution sector. Hence, digital
technologies play a very essential role in the development of the tourism industry
(Kalabukhova, Morozova, Onokoy, Chıcherova & Shadskaja, 2020: 885). As in
all other sectors, there are changes in health tourism with the effect of
digitalization, too. For instance, the first action to be taken by people who will
receive health tourism services in a different region or country is a detailed
preliminary research. This preliminary research is carried out with the
requirements of the era, using technology and internet, and issues such as
accessibility, speed, and cost positively affect the preference of the internet
(Kiralova & Pavliceka, 2014: 359-360). As well as the positive aspects of
digitalization and digital marketing there are negative aspects, too. Although the
information about the product and service can be accessed quickly and easily,
uncertainties may be existing in terms of the accuracy, reliability, and auditability
of that information. In addition, since there is no possibility to touch and check
the products concretely before purchasing, the purchasing rate is on the decline.
Another negative aspect of digitalization and digital marketing is that individuals’
anxiety regarding the confidentiality and security of their card information when
shopping with credit cards in electronic environment (Safko, 2009: 190 cited in
Koçak Alan, Tümer Kabadayı & Erişke, 2018: 496-498).