In the past few years, India has seen a significant rise in medical tourism, with a clear upward trend in the number of medical tourists. The influx of medical tourists to India has grown steadily from 1.83 lakh in 2020 to 5.04 lakh in 2023 (till October).
In the past few years, India has witnessed a steady increase in medical tourism, as indicated by the rising numbers of medical tourists arriving in the country, stated Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and DoNER, G. Kishan Reddy. In 2020, the count stood at 1.83 lakh, which surged to 3.04 lakh in 2021, followed by a substantial increase to 4.75 lakh in 2022. Notably, the trend continued upward in 2023, reaching 5.04 lakh by October.
To support this burgeoning sector, the Government of India has taken substantial steps, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. A USD 14.8 billion loan injection has been announced, aimed at bolstering infrastructure. Additionally, financial aid in the form of working capital and personal loans has been extended to revive tourism-related businesses post the pandemic setback.
Focusing on healthcare infrastructure, major players like Apollo Hospitals, MAX Hospitals, ASIAN Hospitals, SHALBY Hospitals, Fortis Hospitals, and the Manipal Group are spearheading initiatives to establish cutting-edge medical facilities in tier-II and tier-III cities. This development is making advanced medical procedures, such as dental implants and cosmetic surgeries, accessible in these cities, challenging the notion that such treatments were limited to larger urban centers due to distance and time constraints.
The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) plays a pivotal role in accrediting healthcare organisations. Recognised by the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua), NABH accreditation holds international acclaim, significantly boosting India’s standing in medical tourism. Moreover, NABH also extends accreditation to Medical Value Travel Facilitators, an important segment within the medical tourism domain that was previously largely unregulated.
To further promote domestic tourism, the Ministry of Tourism revised the guidelines for the Scheme of Market Development Assistance (MDA) in November 2020. This revision aimed to expand the scheme’s scope and benefits, including provisions tailored for Medical Tourist Service Providers. Financial support under MDA for the promotion of Domestic Tourism has seen an upward trajectory, totaling INR 20,37,118 across the years 2021-24.
Over the years, significant financial aid has been provided for the promotion of domestic tourism initiatives, shared Reddy. As per the data, in 2021-22, an amount of INR 6,86,237 was released, followed by INR 7,06,668 in 2022-23. The support continued into 2023-24, with INR 6,44,213 released till mid-December, culminating in a substantial total amount of INR 20,37,118 allotted for this purpose.
Underpinning these efforts is the Ministry of Tourism’s formulation of a National Strategy and Roadmap for Medical and Wellness Tourism, disclosed Reddy, who was speaking during a Lok Sabha session.