Foreign Tourists on Medical Visas Have Increased 140% in 3 Years
In 2013, more than 50,000 people visited India on a medical visa out of the 6.97 million foreign tourists.
Medical tourism in India is a growing sector and the data available with the government corroborates this fact. The Ministry of Tourism publishes the data of Nationality-wise Foreign Tourist Arrivals by Visa Type in India, in which one of the visa categories is Medical Visa and Medical Attendant Visa.
As per the latest data available with the ministry, the foreign tourist arrivals on Medical Visa increased by 140 percent from 2013 to 2015.
Various Visa categories
The Government of India issues the following visas: Business Visa, Conference Visa, Diplomatic Visa, Employment Visa, Emergency Visa, Entry Visa, Journalist Visa, Medical Visa, Missionaries Visa, Permit to re-enter within 2 months, Research Visa, Student Visa, Tourist Visa, and Transit Visa.
Medical Visa is one of the categories and the data related to Medical Visa is captured by the Ministry of Tourism.
1.34 Lakh Visited India on Medical Visa in 2015
In 2013, more than 50,000 people visited India on a medical visa out of the 6.97 million foreign tourist arrivals in India. This number increased to over 75,000 in 2014 and to 1.34 lakh in 2015. The number of foreign tourist arrivals on a medical attendant visa also increased from 42000 odd in 2013 to more than 99000 in 2015
In the first 6 months of 2016 alone, close to a lakh foreign tourists have arrived on a medical visa. While the number of foreign tourist arrivals on medical visa has increased by about 140 percent in 3 years, the percentage of tourists arriving on medical & medical attendant visa has doubled from 2013 to 2015.
In 2013, the percentage of tourist arrivals on medical & medical attendant visa was a mere 1.4 percent, while it jumped to 2.9 percent in 2015.
Bangladesh, Afghanistan & Nigeria Make up for 2/3rds of Those Arriving on Medical Visas
Between 2013 and 2015, more than 2.66 lakh tourists visited India on a medical visa, out of which 1.75 lakh tourists were from just the three countries, namely, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
These three countries accounted for nearly 2/3rds of all the tourist arrivals on medical visa. Bangladesh alone accounted for 44 percent of all the foreign tourist arrivals on medical visa.
The other countries in the top 10 were Maldives, Oman, Yemen, Tanzania, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Iraq. The number of tourist arrivals on medical visa from Iraq increased by more than 10 times in 2015 compared to 2014.
Even in the first 6 months of 2016, more than 6000 tourists from Iraq arrived in India on a medical visa. In both 2014 and 2015, tourists from 160 different countries visited India on a medical visa.
Medical Tourism and Wellness On the Government’s Agenda
Medical Tourism and the promotion of wellness are high on the government’s agenda. The National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board has been constituted to provide a dedicated institutional framework for the promotion of Medical Tourism, Wellness Tourism and Yoga, Ayurveda Tourism and any other format of the Indian systems of medicine covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).
As per government information, this board works as an umbrella organisation that governs and promotes this segment of tourism. It has representatives from AYUSH, Quality Council of India, National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH). To promote quality in the healthcare sector, the NABH provides accreditation to hospitals and wellness centres for adhering to quality standards.
Under the Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme, the Ministry of Tourism also provides incentives to stakeholders accredited by NABH. The first meeting of this board was held in January this year.
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