Bordeaux, France
French city Bordeaux is famous for its wine and food Philippe LOPEZ/AFP News

Turkey is reportedly expected to overtake France as the second-most popular holiday destination among European travellers.

Turkey has witnessed a massive 70 per cent rise in its visitors when compared to the time before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to tourism bodies World Travel Market (WTM) and Tourism Economics, the Middle Eastern country welcomed 44.6 million tourists last year and this number is anticipated to hit 50 million in 2023.

One of the major reasons behind Turkey's rise in the tourism sector is said to be its medical industry. The Middle Eastern country has been one of the most popular holiday hotspots among travellers from across the globe for its warm weather, gorgeous beach resorts and fairly affordable meals and souvenirs when compared to its neighbouring European competitors.

It is the eighth most visited destination by British tourists, according to Abta - The Travel Association in the UK, but medical tourism is believed to be behind Turkey's recent rise in popularity.

Out of the 44.6 million tourists in Turkey in 2022, around 1.2 million were medical tourists. Around 746,290 medical tourists have already visited the Eurasian country this year, with hair transplants and cosmetic dentistry the most popular treatments in the country, followed by laser eye and weight-loss surgery.

The city of Istanbul, which straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait, received more than 1.7 million visitors in August alone this year. It has become a popular destination for men seeking hair transplants. Meanwhile, according to the Turkish Dental Association, up to 250,000 foreign patients arrive in the country every year for cosmetic dentistry, known as "Turkey teeth".

It has also been reported that dentists in the UK are increasingly worried about the procedures done in Turkey, where crowns are put on teeth that involve them being filed down to stumps, leading to nerve damage. Patients are often forced to undergo corrective treatment - but many UK dental specialists will not treat Turkey Teeth because of the difficulty of many of the procedures.

The UK Foreign Office has warned people that undergoing surgery abroad can be dangerous, with more than 25 British nationals having died in Turkey since January 2019 following medical procedures there.

The government office has also warned of outbreaks of the serious illness botulism, which has been linked to weight-loss treatments performed in Istanbul and Izmir in February.

In September, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) alerted travellers regarding the serious outbreak of Salmonella food poisoning in Turkey.