Also from: Afghanistan (55,681), Iraq (47,640), Maldives (45,355), Oman (28,157) and Yemen (11,903).

 

Indian medical care facility appears to be a favourite of the people from Bangladesh, as Bangladeshis constituted about 55% of the total medical tourists coming to the country from abroad last year.

According to the figures of the Ministry of Tourism, the inflow of medical tourists coming from Bangladesh increased to as much as 83% in the last three years. While as many as 120,388 Bangladeshis came to India for medical treatment in 2015, this number increased to 221,751 in 2017. Overall, the number of medical tourists saw an increase of more than double in these three years. While 2.33 lakh foreigners came to India for medical treatment in 2015, this number increased to 4.95 lakh in 2017. The ministry’s figures are based on the data received from the Bureau of Immigration, Government of India.

Other countries, from where substantial numbers of people came to India for treatment, include Afghanistan (55,681), Iraq (47,640), Maldives (45,355), Oman (28,157) and Yemen (11,903). Seychelles, from where only five people came on medical visas in 2015, reported 939 medical tourists in 2017.

Pakistan, incidentally, has reported a decrease in the number of medical tourists—from 3,632 in 2015 to 1,785 in 2017. The number increased marginally in case of people coming from developed countries like US (615 to 649), UK (609 to 755), France (56 to 97) and Germany (52 to 109).

Though the foreign exchange earning (FEE) through medical tourism is not available separately, the provisional estimates of total FEEs through tourism were Rs 177,874 crore in 2017.

The Niti Aayog has identified medical value travel as a major source of foreign exchange earnings. India currently has about 18% of the global medical tourism market. Its medical value travel was $2 billion in 2015, according to a report of industry body FICCI. It is estimated that by 2020 it could be $9 billion and percentage share may become 20%.

According to the report, the Indian medical tourism industry gets maximum patients for heart surgery, knee transplant, cosmetic surgery and dental care, as the cost of treatment here is considered the lowest in Asia, much lower than Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Hongkong.

The preferred states for medical treatment are Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat.

In order to promote medical tourism, the government has removed visa restriction on tourist visas which required a two month gap between consecutive visits for people from the gulf countries.

A visa-on-arrival scheme for tourists from select countries has also been instituted which allows foreign nationals to stay in India for 30 days for medical reasons.