Chairing the fifth meeting of the National Medical and Wellness Tourism Promotion Board, Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (Independent Charge), Prahlad Singh Patel said that the time is ripe for India to take the lead in promoting the country as the hub for medical and wellness tourism to the world.
Addressing the board meeting virtually, Patel said that along with modern medicine, it is also an ideal time to promote traditional Ayurveda and yoga to the world to attract more travellers to India after the Covid-19 pandemic.
India currently has 34 Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospitals and 578 National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) accredited hospitals. Patel said that there is a need to increase the number of JCI accredited hospitals in the country to attract more medical value travellers as well as offer them more choices.
“The number of hospitals under the international standards of JIC has to increase so that tourists have more hospitals to choose from. Under Ayushman Bharat a lot of hospitals have been upgraded. So now they will be incorporated into NABH and their level is elevated to JIC levels, so that people coming to India for medical tourism have more options. In fact, even visas will be granted based on recommendations from these centres and hospitals,” the Minister said.
The Tourism Minister said that more than 130 countries around the world are competing for a piece of this global medical tourism business. The popular medical tourism destinations besides India are Brunei, Cuba, Columbia, Hong Kong, Jordan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and USA.
He added that the total number of inward medical tourists doubled in a span of just three years in India. For India, major source markets for medical value travel are West Asia and Africa. 22% of all medical value travel into India was from West Asia in 2017, followed by 15.7 percent from Africa, according to the Indian Tourism Statistics, 2018 report.
A rapidly growing travel segment, the Global Medical Tourism Market was worth USD19.7 Billion in 2016 and estimated to be growing at a CAGR of 18.8 %, to reach USD 46.6 Billion by 2021, the Minister said citing the report by SEPC under the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. Asia-Pacific accounts for the largest share of around 40% of the global market.
The National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board was formed to address impediments to the growth of Medical Tourism and to provide dedicated institutional framework to take forward the cause of promotion of Medical Tourism, Wellness Tourism and Yoga, Ayurveda Tourism and any other format of Indian system of medicine covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH). Eminent doctors like Dr Naresh Trehan of Medanta, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman of Narayana Health are among members of the Board.