India is a land of diversities. These diversities extend not only to geographic regimes but also to cultural and religious extremes. India’s rich cultural heritage has always been an attraction for travelers from all across the globe.
Tourism in India
The tourism sector is always a sector of vital importance to a country as it contributes economically as well as socially. Economically it generates mass employment and contributes significantly to GDP. Socially the sector offers massive opportunities of interaction within and with the outside world. Health tourism or medical tourism is a recent development in this sector and is showing good potential. Patients from developed countries are increasingly visiting India to avail medical treatments of various kinds and they mostly end up their visit seeing the tourist attractions of the place. Though primary objective of the tour remains achieving better health but recreation is also sought. India is developing as one of the most promising market for medical tourism.
The Indian advantage in the field of medical tourism
India offers various advantages in the field of medical tourism but the most important ones are discussed as follows:
- Blend of medical and leisure tourism: India serves both the purposes of medical tourism and leisure tourism. The country offers a wide range of sightseeing destinations, historical monuments and pilgrim centers along with exquisite handicrafts and exclusive fairs and exhibitions around different parts of the country. Therefore when somebody comes to India for health revitalization, there are always options to spend leisure time with the family who accompany the patient.
- World class medical services: India is considered as the hub of highly educated specialized doctors and the treatment facilities are at par with the world’s standard medical services. Indian nurses and para medical staff are among the best in the world.
- Low cost advantage: Tourists seeking medical tourism basically look for a destination that offers world class medical facilities at economical rates. India offers value for money to its medical tourists as compared to many of the developed nations. The treatment costs are far less in India in case of cosmetic surgeries, cardiac and orthopedic surgeries and treatments, bone marrow transplant, and various rejuvenation treatments etc.
- Smaller waiting lists: In most of the developed countries the patients usually need to wait for long time till they get the doctor’s appointment and the actual treatment. But in India, the waiting time is quite less and therefore the country offers faster recovery of health.
- Alternative medicine systems: India enjoys a niche when it comes to alternative systems of medicine like ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy and unani. These medicine systems prove very effective in various ailments and people across the globe are increasingly recognizing this fact. In future the demand for these treatments is expected to rise as people are more inclined to herbal treatment now days.
- Advancement in IT: India is also among the world’s fastest growing Information Technology (IT) hubs. The advancement and sophistication in the field of IT has facilitated the healthcare sector. There is an increasing use of computers and internet in medical tourism adding to the demand and convenience in this sector.
- Low language barrier: One of the reasons for the emergence of India in the field of medical tourism is the high proportion of English speaking population. The doctors, nurses and other medical staff as well as the inhabitants in general can not only understand but also converse in English which removes the language barriers for oversees patients and make them comfortable.
- Infertility treatments: India also has an edge in the field of infertility treatments and is considered as one of the best and most economical place for various modern reproductive techniques including test tube babies and surrogacy services.
- Affordable personalized care: India also offers the advantage of affordable personalized care services for critical and old-age patients. It is relatively easy to hire somebody for taking care during and after the treatment and thus healthcare in India suits to those people also who has nobody to accompany them abroad.
- Easy access: The initiatives taken by both the Government and private sector provides a host of facilities like easier access to medical visas, several flights and domestic transportation systems to travel to and within the country, economical tour packages customized to travelers’ needs, easier access to internet and other communication facilities, availability of certified drugs and medicines within easy reach adding to the Indian advantage in medical tourism.
- Kumar, R. (2008). Medical Tourism in India: Management and Promotion. New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications Pvt. Ltd.
- Swain, D. & Sahu, S. “Opportunities and Challenges of Health Tourism in India”. Conference on Tourism in India-Challenges Ahead. 15-17 May, 2008.