FICCI has advocated a special category of Visa to promote Ayurveda and Wellness Tourism to tap the full potential of India as a healing and wellness destination in the post-Covid world. Speakers at a webinar organised by the Ayurveda Tourism Task Force under the Tourism Committee of the FICCI have highlighted the unique strength of Ayurveda, the Indian conventional medicine, in enhancing immunity in human body and demanded adequate policy measures to support the Ayurvedic Tourism into the country.
Kick-starting the discussion Sajeev Kurup, Chairman, FICCI Ayurveda Tourism Task Force and the MD, Ayurveda Mana Hospitals has asked for opening of Visa, if not general, but a Medical Value specific to Ayurveda, so that tourists who come regularly for Ayurvedic treatments can come for their annual treatments. He also asked the government to bring in rationalised protocols for interstate travel and quarantine norms so that travellers coming for treatments for long duration are not inconvenienced.
Kurup also urged the Ayush Ministry to make the NABH accreditation simpler and rationalised so as to enable the small and medium ayurvedic hospitals and wellness resorts can also get the accreditation. “70% of the industry is small and medium players. You cannot have similar accreditation norms for 500 bedded Allopathic hospital and a 20-bed Ayurvedic Hospital or Wellness retreat,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Manish Nesari, Advisor – Ayurveda, Ministry of Ayush said that Ayurveda has emerged as the true medicine and health segment in the global pandemic and data compiled by the Ayush Ministry has proved categorically the immunity enhancing and Covid19 curing properties of Indian conventional medicine.
The data has been translated into eight foreign languages to make it known to the world through the Indian missions abroad, he said. While modern medicine takes 20 to 25 days to cure Covid19, the Ayurvedic medicines took only 9 to 10 days to heal the Covid 19 positive patient, he said.
Nesari said that the Ayush Ministry has already signed bilateral agreements with 38 countries to promote Ayurveda and agreements with many multilateral groups like BIMSTEC, BRICS, SCO, G20, etc. are also being planned.
As far as NABH accreditation is concerned, Nesari said that the government understands the difficulties of the small and medium players and steps are being taken to liberalise the procedures.
Responding to the Visa issue, he said that the Ministry has taken up the issue of a special Ayush or Wellness Visa with the External Affairs Ministry, and directions have been gone from the nodal ministry to all the Missions abroad to be lenient to people applying for Medical and Wellness Visas.
Participating in the panel discussion, Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General – Tourism, Government of India has said that the endeavour is to creative a new communication strategy with a new narrative so that all aspects of India as a Spiritual, Wellness, Healing, Nature, etc. goes to the global market. He cautioned the stakeholders of the Ayurveda and Wellness industry to rise to the occasion to deliver experiences which are in line with the narrative.
Manu Rishi Guptha, CEO, Niraamaya Wellness Retreats suggested that the government should try to “disincentive” the outbound travel, or “incentivise” the domestic travel so that Indians start discovering the destinations within. That is the only way the current distress in the industry can be reversed. He said that the messaging should be loud and clear that Ayurveda retreats can also be part of the family and leisure travellers.
B Swaminathan, MD, Dravidian Trails; and Irina Gurjeva, Top Ayurveda Travel Company, Ukraine, and Abhilash K Ramesh, Executive Director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group also spoke on the topic.