Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (Independent Charge) Prahlad Singh Patel virtually attended the fifth meeting of the National Medical and Wellness Tourism Promotion Board on Monday, informed a press release. 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 Naresh Trehan of Medanta; Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS; Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman of Narayana Health are among members of the board.
During the meeting, Patel said this is the right time to promote yoga, Ayurveda which will be the need of the times for people. The tourism minister mentioned that India has 34 hospitals which are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI) and 578 under the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH).
Patel remarked, “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.”
Patel added, “Medical and wellness tourism is rapidly growing. The Global Medical Tourism Market was worth $19.7 billion in 2016 and estimated to be growing at a CAGR of 18.8 percent to reach $46.6 billion by 2021 (Source: Services Export Promotion Council, Ministry of Commerce). Asia-Pacific accounted for the largest share of around 40 percent of the global market.”
The tourism minister pointed out that over 130 countries are competing for a piece of this global business, the release mentioned. The popular medical tourism destinations include India, Brunei, Cuba, Columbia, Hong Kong, Hungry, Jordan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and USA. It encompasses primarily and predominantly biomedical procedures, combined with travel and tourism.
He added that the total number of inward medical tourists doubled in a span of just three years in India. In 2017, around 22 per cent arrivals from West Asia were for medical purposes, followed by 15.7 percent from Africa, according to the Indian Tourism Statistics, 2018 report.