Spurt of Medical Tourism to India
Medical tourism is the phenomenon of people travelling to foreign countries to avail of cost effective and readily available medical treatment there along with enjoying their tourist attractions.
Medical tourist from not only developed countries like Europe and USA travel to India for medical treatment, but a recent trend is of natives of neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and China seeking world class medical care in India. India is facing stiff competition from other Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.
Medical tourism is emerging as the crown jewel of the tourism sector in India. Because of the burgeoning cost of health care in developed countries, large numbers of international travelers are arriving in India seeking the inexpensive and high quality medical treatment available here.
The Indian government has woken up to the tremendous scope for health tourism for India and is adopting many measures to actively promote this sector. For instance,it has overhauled the M-visa (medical visa) for foreign nationals, making it easy for them to seek medical treatment in the country.
According to the organization, Patients Beyond Borders, over 250,000 medical tourists are annually travelling to India, seeking everything from orthopedic surgeries to cosmetic treatments. According to statistics, this niche sector of the tourism industry is expanding rapidly. Over 96,000 medical tourists have arrived in India on Medical visas till June, this year.
The number of tourists arriving on M-visas was around 56,000 in 2013, which rose to 75,000 in 2014 and to 1,34,000 in 2015. Of these the largest group consisted of the sick and infirm from Bangladesh.
The government has stepped up its initiative to boost medical tourism. This includes easing of restrictions on M-visas, enhancing visa on arrival scheme, encouraging the modernization of hospitals etc. Fresh measures for attracting medical tourists are on the anvil, like encouraging tourism packages combined with heath care programs.
Many cosmetic procedures like Botox, face lift, laser skin surgery are growing popular with medical tourists visiting India. This is because such treatments are very expensive in other countries. Patients from Bangladesh and Afghanistan are thronging India as these procedures are expensive and outside insurance plans in these countries.
Other medical treatments sought by foreign nationals in India are minimally invasive surgeries, orthopedic treatments like knee replacement, oncology treatment and alternative treatment modes like Ayurveda, Siddha and Yoga.
India is emerging as a popular destination for medical care with foreign nationals and is a member of the corridor for global medical tourism which includes Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Cuba and Mexico. Among these, India also has the largest number of internationally accredited hospitals, after Thailand. Medical tourism of India is a sun rise industry.
Delhi tops the chart for greeting medical tourist with Mumbai and Chennai in second place. India offers very inexpensive medical treatment with quality on par with the best in the world and also beautiful resorts for convalescence.
India is attracting more and more medical tourists every year due to some inherent factors. These include large number of super specialty hospitals, availability of inexpensive medical care, wide practice of English language speaking, world class equipment and facilities, highly trained and professional doctors and a host of wonderful tourist attractions, which is the icing on the cake.