Minister of State for Tourism, independent charge, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that medical tourism as a sector will be propagated and promoted in all Indian tourism directorates and other forums.
Speaking at the 11th India Health Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi, the minister also acknowledged the need for a separate body to dedicate efforts to boost medical tourism. This, he stated, was essential given the high growth potential of medical tourism. No other sector is growing at a rate of 30 percent, he said.
Dr Sharma assured the medical fraternity of all possible help in realising the potential of medical tourism. He noted that Indian healthcare providers were providing quality par excellence at a fraction of the cost and that is what was attracting foreigners.
Describing cleanliness, security and hospitality as the key factors determining tourism, the minister informed that as part of the Swachh Bharat campaign, a huge cleanliness drive would be undertaken at all key tourist destinations, including hospitals. Similarly, for security purposes various schemes are being devised including a nationwide 24×7 helpline.
Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman, CII National Committee on Healthcare and Chairman & Managing Director, Medanta-The Medicity, pointed out the need for a collective effort to raise the image of healthcare in India.
The sector was valued at US $3 billion and as many as 8.5 million patients. Importantly, Dr Trehan informed that the sector was still growing at 20-30 percent. This provides an exceptional opportunity both for the healthcare providers as well as the tourism sector. Contrary to other sectors, this is one area where India still has a 10-year advantage over China, he said.
He requested the minister to streamline the process of medical tourism visas and impress upon the diplomatic missions to be more sensitive and accommodative in this regard.