Promoting Health Tourism in Kerala
The tiny state of Kerala on the southwest coast of India was already a major destination for Western travelers before Travel and Leisure magazine included it in its list of “50 places to see before you die.” Now, the state administration has announced plans to promote the region as a medical tourism destination. To raise greater awareness of health tourism, Kerala’s tourism ministry plans to send road shows to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and other parts of Asia to promote its medical services to patients in these countries. The larger American and European markets are also targeted in Kerala’s health tourism campaign.
Investing In Health Travel
The successful promotion of health travel in Kerala has also begun to attract investments from non-resident Keralites who already contribute substantially to the state’s economy. The government, on its part, has begun to offer attractive incentives to investors and has guaranteed various forms of assistance in order to help establish quality medical tourism facilities. To be eligible for government recognition, hospitals and health providers must comply with the terms of the National Accreditation Board (NAB). All these measures added to higher budgetary allocations for its public health sector, the government hopes, will help secure Kerala’s position as a significant player in the global health travel industry by 2010.
Marked Increase in Medical Tourism
Kerala reported a 31% jump in its medical tourism traffic in 2005. This increase was found to be fuelled by word of mouth, rather than government promotions of health travel. To ensure that the industry continues to maintain this rate of growth, the Kerala government is also collaborating with private health care enterprises to establish special support systems for patients arriving for health travel.