Medical tourism is a term commonly used for defining the people who travel to other foreign countries for the very purpose of medical treatments. India is one such popular destination for medical tourists. In recent years India has transformed into a medical tourism hub with an increase in people who travel to India for various types of medical treatment. It is surprising to know that people from developed countries travel to developing countries for medical procedures. Several reasons, like affordable medical treatments and the availability of skilled doctors, influence people from other countries to travel to India from their homeland. The following gives an update about the rapid rise in the issue of medical visas for medical tourists who travel to India.
The Home Affairs Ministry in the Rajya Sabha has reported with statistical data on India becoming a medical tourism hub in recent years. It is evident from the increase in the issue of medical visas for medical tourists from all over the world. It is said that the issuance of medical visas increased by about 65% in the year 2016. Nearly 1.78 lakh visas were offered by the Indian government on medical grounds for tourists in the year 2016. The medical visas issued in the year 2015 were only 1.22 lakh. This rapid increase has made India emerge as a medical tourism hub.
The Ministry of Tourism came up with the number of foreign tourists who visited India in the period 2014-2016. About 184,298 tourists visited India in the year 2014. The number increased in the year 2015. A rapid increase of foreign tourist arrivals was reported in the year 2016 as nearly 361,060 visited the country.
World-class tourist resorts in India offering wellness packages earn a massive share of the money from medical tourism. In the year 2013, the medical wellness tourism of tourist resorts earned about 5000 crores.
Medical tourists strengthen the economy of India as it is said that a foreign medical tourist who visits India spends on an average of about $132 per day. It is predicted that international tourism would earn about $ 5 billion by 2018.
It is also predicted that in the year 2020, the medical tourism industry of India would fetch about $8 billion to the economy of the country.
In recent years, several reasons attributed for India becoming a medical tourism hub. One of the significant reasons for the increase in medical tourists in India is the high quality of medical treatments. The healthcare industry has improved its quality and infrastructure close to International standards, and this attracts medical tourists from several other countries. The clinical expertise in India is accepted globally. The availability of highly skilled and experienced doctors and nurses in India has instilled confidence among medical tourists.
Cost-effective treatment is the primary factor that drives people from other countries for medical treatment in India. It is also possible to cover the medical expenses by International Insurance companies when treated at hospitals in India. The cost of medical treatments and surgeries in India is only one-tenth when compared to medical costs in countries like the U.S, U.K etc.
Medical tourism is available as a comprehensive package which includes services like travel, accommodation, food and facilities to reach out to world-class hospitals. Low-cost post-treatment stay and easy follow up visits have made it attractive for medical tourists to travel to India for medical treatments.
The government of India is coming up with various initiatives and policies to strengthen and improve medical tourism in India. They have taken steps to simplify the e-medical visa facility, which has made it possible for medical tourists to plan frequent visits to India for medical purposes.
People from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East, Maldives and Srilanka visit India for various types of medical treatments. Medical tourists from the U.S and U.K are about to increase in the future due to the low treatment cost in India.
The number of foreign tourists from neighbouring countries for cosmetic and skin treatments is rising every year. Cardiac surgery, organ transplant, orthopaedic surgery, fertility treatments, chemotherapy, stem cell therapy are the popular medical areas for which medical tourists travel to India.
Alternative medicines like homoeopathy, Siddha, Ayurveda, Naturopathy etc. are also practised in India with more considerable significance. Medical tourists also visit India to get treated with alternative medicines for chronic and rare medical conditions.