India Becoming the Most Favored Medical Travel Destination
With 4 million tourists in 2006 with an additional 5 million predicted for 2007, the Indian Tourism Ministry is placing medical travel and tourism on top priority. The National Healthcare Committee and the Indian Tourism Ministry have jointly organized workshops aimed at marketing the country’s medical travel industry and Indian medical tourism packages. The focus of these workshops is improvement in the quality and pricing of Indian medical tourism packages, developing competitive strategies, and handling litigation issues.
Tourism Ministry Promoting Indian Medical Tourism Packages
Mr. Amitabh Kant, Joint Secretary in the Indian Tourism Ministry, assured his department’s total commitment to the promotion and marketing of Indian medical tourism packages. The Tourism Ministry is marketing the county’s health and wellness tourism benefits to the world through the establishment of thirteen overseas offices that will promote medical and travel facilities available in India. The Ministry issues special one-year M-visas for people coming in for treatment. These visas are also available for traveling companions. Provisions are also being made for separate immigration counters at Indian airports for visitors holding M-visas.
Towards Standardization in Health and Wellness Tourism in the World
Noted legal personality Lalit Bhasin briefed the participants on the subject of litigation and stressed the need for safety measures while promoting health and wellness tourism in the world. He suggested that the Ministry and CII approach the WHO to frame an international protocol regarding the standards of medical travel and treatment. Harpal Singh, chairman of Fortis Healthcare, said that the estimated global market size of health and wellness tourism throughout the world is US$40 billion, of which India’s share has been projected to touch Rs 10,000 Crore by 2012. The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers has begun a systematic program that includes processing applications for 35 hospitals, fixing prices for various procedures, and formulating a code of ethics. India is thus emerging as a strong competitor to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore in the health and wellness tourism industry.