The increasing global demand for traditional health care practices has been a key driver of growth in India’s tourism sector, according to Manas Pattanaik, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, India. The value of medical tourism in India is expected to hit $9 billion by 2020, with the country already ranking among the top 5 wellness destinations in the world.
“With a greater emphasis being laid on preventive health care methods such as Ayurveda and yoga, India has become a medical hub for visitors. The combination of traditional and modern health care against the backdrop of rich cultural heritage make it a growing tourist attraction”, said Pattanaik. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, India jumped up 12 places in an index measuring competitive performance recording a growth rate of about 4.02 per cent in the travel and tourism sector. Figures for the Foreign Tourist Arrivals in India were at a 11.3 per cent in 2016 higher than the global average.
The modern health care sector in India has also contributed its share to inbound tourism, he said. Advancements in technology, state of the art facilities, well trained professionals combined with the relatively lower cost of treatment attracts those seeking medical aid to the country. Healthcare in India reportedly saves patients between 65 per cent to 90 per cent of money compared to similar services in the US and other countries.
With a larger number of hospitals receiving accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NBAH), health care packages are being provided to foreign patients. Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and NCR top the list for the most favourite medical tourism destinations.
“Tourists come from all over the world to India with the Middle East recording significant inflows. We’ve seen a 1.31 per cent increase in travellers from the UAE over the past year,” Pattanaik said, who added that E-visas to India is believed to make travelling to the country much easier.
The wellness industry in the country also attracts significant amounts of domestic and international investments with foreign investors capitalising on the product and service diversification. Multiple retreat centres have been set up across states that bring in large number of visitors every year. The sector also provides for a 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment and high expectations on returns have boosted investor confidence. he said.