Medical tourism in India is booming
India has been becoming a favourite destination for medical tourism in recent years. Advanced medical facilities, highly skilled doctors and comparatively low cost of treatment make India an ideal place for medical tourism. The total number of visitors during the year 2017 was 4.95 lakh, as stated by KJ Alphons, Minister of State for Tourism. He was replying to queries in the Lok Sabha.
People visited India for medical purposes during 2015 and 2016 were 2.34 lakh and 4.27 lakh respectively.
Bangladesh and Afghanistan are at top places in the number of foreign tourist arrivals for medical purposes. About 2.21 lakh tourists from Bangladesh have visited India in 2017 for medical reasons, compared to 1.20 lakh in 2015 and 2.10 lakh in 2016.
The number of medical tourists from Afghanistan was 27,505 in 2015 and 61,231 in 2016. However the number declined slightly in 2017 counting 55,681. Iraq, Oman, Maldives, Yemen, Uzbekistan and Sudan are the other countries from where large numbers visitors coming to India for medical purposes.
Answering about the foreign exchange earned (FEE) from medical tourism, the Minister said there is no separate data available. “However, the provisional estimates of the total FEE through medical tourism during 2015, 2016 and 2017 were Rs 1,35,193 crore, Rs 1,54,146 crore, and Rs 1,77,874 crore, respectively,” he said.
Currently India’s market share in medical tourism is around 18 per cent and its Medical Value Travel (MVT) is estimated at USD 3 billion in 2015, as per the report of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and IMS Health, a firm working in the health industry information.
It is expected that by 2020, India’s medical tourism industry could be worth USD 9 billion, with 20 per cent of the global market share.
The report points out that India is one of the most preferred destinations for curative care like cardiology, orthopedics, transplants, and ophthalmology. India’s wellness, preventive, and alternative medicine industry are also of high demand.