Pursuant to the initiatives of the GoI, the IMC organised a ‘Medical Tourism Conclave’ at the Taj President in Mumbai last month. This event received the whole hearted support from the Government of Maharashtra which was represented by its dynamic Principal Secretary, Valsa Nair Singh who heads the Department of Tourism & Culture. At this gathering, every leading hospital was represented and well supported by members of the medical, travel & hospitality fraternities.
Medical Tourism, although in its nascent stage has a great potential for inbound to India. We now have the best hospitals, the best doctors and support staff. Although foreigners had an apprehension
about post operative care, this has been taken care of in recent times and those that have been treated here have gone back and spoken well of the facilities here.
However, this initiative has to gather momentum which is the bane of most such efforts which loose it somewhere down the way. The remedy is for the hospitals association to put together a joint effort to market this service overseas through various mediums. There are opportunities galore i.e. participation at major travel exhibitions like ITB, WTM, ATM, etc., during which an engagement with the travel trade will help to disseminate information on the services available. Another medium through which they could market
this service is by using the network of large organisations like VFS Global who have offices in almost every country.
The GoI has commissioned a survey to collect data on the services provided and the income from foreigners being treated here. The survey will cover 300-350 hospitals that provide these services and this report is expected to be out sometime early next year. Through reliable sources, it is learnt that this data will be used for improving policy for this sector. Also, the GoI is in the process of simplifying E-visa for Medical Tourism. It will help if the Centre reaches out to the travel trade to disseminate this information locally as well as overseas.
The cost of medical treatment in India is much
cheaper than in Western Europe, North America & some South East Asian countries, whereas it is virtually non-existent in some of the African countries. Thus, it is not surprising that in reports published recently, it is expected that Medical tourism in India will double to an estimated USD 8 billion in the next 5 years.
At this moment, we have all the right ingredients to make it happen. This will only fall into place if the hospitals, travel trade & other providers of this service take it seriously, work together and take the support of organisations like IMC, CII, FICCI, Indian Embassies & High Commissions overseas.
We have made a good beginning, let’s not lose the initiative whilst the going is good.