The Indian medical tourism industry is expected to reach $6 billion (around Rs.36,000 crore) by 2018, with the number of people arriving in the country for medical treatment set to double over the next four years, a report by industry lobby Punjab Haryana Delhi (PHD) Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Thursday.
Currently, the size of the medical tourism industry in India in value terms is estimated at a little over $3 billion, with tourist arrivals estimated at 230,000.
Medical tourism is an area that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government plans to tap to drive growth in the tourism sector. In its manifesto, the party said it would build 50 tourism circuits including a medical circuit, which will connect hubs of modern medicine and Ayurveda.
The report projected the segment to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20% between 2014 and 2018.
India has positioned itself as an inexepensive destination for medical treatment compared with the US and Europe. Additionally, Indian private hospitals have a large pool of skilled doctors, nurses and supporting staff that attract medical tourists, especially from South-East Asia and the Middle East.
“The vast pool of medical professionals, expanding private health-care infrastructure, growing technical expertise, cheaper medical procedures, world class health-care infrastructure and government support are likely to boost the number of medical tourists arrivals in India to a projected level of 4 lakh by 2018,” said Sharad Jaipuria, president, PHD Chamber.
The report cited the lack of a dedicated website on which Indian hospitals, tour operators and medical facilitators can be listed with specialists and doctors, as a deterrent to the growth of medical tourism.