One Unique Type Of Travel Is Causing This Country To Become Europe's 2nd Most Popular

Turkey is a country with a lot to offer tourists. It boasts beautiful landscapes, rich heritage, and stunning beaches. However, it is increasingly becoming known for a different reason: medical tourism or health tourism. This refers to the practice of traveling abroad to receive medical treatments that are inaccessible in one's home country, such as cosmetic procedures, dental work, or even heart surgery. One of the biggest reasons for this trend is that the cost of these procedures is much cheaper in places like Turkey. As a result, health travel agencies are taking advantage of this trend and benefiting from it financially.

Figures from the World Travel Market (WTM) Global Travel Report show that since the pandemic, Turkey has had a 70% visitor increase, which is attributed to its medical tourism growth. In 2022, 1.2 million tourists visited Turkey specifically for medical procedures, out of an estimated 44.6 million total visitors, rather than for traditional sightseeing. During 2023, it continued to be popular despite increased media attention describing the risks.

The drawbacks of medical tourism

When it comes to getting procedures done abroad, the biggest issue is that choosing the wrong medical facility can have fatal consequences. Medical tourism is popular among U.K. residents, but 25 people have died in Turkey from procedures done between 2019 and 2023. Due to these deaths, the British government issued a travel warning to alert others of the dangers.

Those who want to proceed are advised to ensure the hospital is registered with Turkey's Ministry of Health. The government flagged a rise in botulism infections associated with weight loss surgery performed in the cities of Izmir and Istanbul. The so-called "Turkey teeth" are also causing problems as patients try to get their cosmetic dentistry fixed back at home. A British Dental Association (BDA) 2022 survey found that 86% of dentist participants had treated people whose dental work from abroad had gone wrong. However, for regular tourists, Turkey remains one of the most wonderful places in Europe to visit.

Why Turkey is more than a place for medical tourism

As one of the biggest countries in Europe, there is plenty for travelers to do here that doesn't include getting work done. Istanbul is a vibrant hub with a massive market called the Grand Bazaar, which has over 5,000 stores. It also has the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Basilica Cistern. Elsewhere in Turkey is the storybook region of Cappadocia, which is made up of rock formations that resemble "fairy chimneys," as well as caves. Visitors can watch hot air balloons fly as the sun rises.

The country also boasts the ethereal Pamukkale thermal springs (Cotton Palace). This is a UNESCO heritage site made from petrified waterfalls due to their calcium deposits as they feed into the terraced pools beneath them. Tourists can bathe in these turquoise-hued waters with supposed healing benefits, a result of the dissolved minerals. Also at Pamukkale is Hierapolis, an ancient theater that offers an insight into the fascinating past of a country that has many stories to tell.