Medical tourism is a growth sector of India's tourism industry. With healthcare in developed countries getting costlier, significant numbers of international tourists are keen on seeking India as a cheap destination for treatment.
As an indication to Indian medical tourism gradually gaining popularity globally, inquiries about 'M' or medical visas at Indian missions and consulates are seeing a phenomenal rise. With a one year validity, these visas are issued to companions too.
‘India’s current size of the medical tourism market is estimated at US $ three billion and the potential is US $ eight billion by 2020.’
Statistics reveal that this niche segment of the tourism industry is moving forward at a brisk pace. 96,856 foreigners have visited India on 'medical visas' till June this year reveal the Ministry of Tourism figures. The number of 'M' visa entrants who entered India was 56,129 in 2013, rising to 75,671 in 2014, and again to 1,34,344 in 2015. The largest number constituted of the ailing from Bangladesh.
Recent government policies to boost medical tourism are favorable. It includes easing of visa restrictions, visa-on-arrival, encouraging modern facilities by private sector hospitals, etc. Moreover fresh measures are underway to further improve the prospects.
Cosmetic procedures like lasers, Botox and skin surgeries such as face lift and nose jobs are seen to be gaining grounds with hospitals in India. These are very costly in other countries. People from Bangladesh and Afghanistan are lining up for these procedures to India, as they do not find any cover under insurance plans.
A Korean patient Rehana revealed that she had got a nose surgery done for Rs.35,000 in India. Back home the same procedure would have costed over Rs. 60 to Rs.70,000 she stated. The other treatments being covered under the M Visa include: minimal invasive surgery, oncology services, orthopaedics and joint replacement, and holistic health care. These are provided by about 45 hospitals promoted as "centres of excellence" in India.
India is on the medical tourist itinerary of foreign tourists and is a part of the global medical tourism corridor that includes Singapore, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mexico and Costa Rica. The country also has the second largest number of accredited hospitals after Thailand.
Delhi is India's leading destination for medical tourism. It gets all the medical tourists coming in from CIS countries. Chennai and Mumbai come second in the list of cities attracting medical tourists. Besides cheaper prices, India also offers world-class treatment along with attractive resorts for convalescence.