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Tourism in India: A Healthy Option

India has always been able to attract tourists looking for adventure. The exotic locale now has an added advantage – state of the art medical facilities. As India advances on the medical front with the private health institutions offering world class medical care with the best of doctors, Medical or Health tourism has gained prominence. An opportunity that according to the McKinsey Consultants and CII, is slated to grow to $2.1 billion by 2012, India stands to gain immensely from it.

India – A notch above the others
India’s advantage lies in the fact that the advanced medical facilities are available at about 20% the cost in the United States. The medical infrastructure in India is at par with the best available across the world. The Indian medical industry also boasts of specialists in varied fields who have continued to perform with positive outcomes.

Some of the treatments that have been observed to be more in demand are heart surgery, knee transplant, cosmetic surgery and dental care. These combined with the other developed alternative therapies for post operative care such as yoga, meditation, ayurveda, leverages ‘Advantage India’. India stands a notch above the other countries such as Thailand that are actively promoting health tourism.

The Growing Opportunity
Across the western world, people are used to seeing Indians occupy places of prominence in their medical institutions and are used to getting treated by them. This allows the westerners to develop confidence in Indian capabilities. However, currently the biggest market is the Indian Diaspora that opts for medical treatment in India during their routine visits.

According to industry estimates, the country had about 0.15 million visitors who opted for various medical procedures. Most of these were from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. This is an opportunity which if exploited to the hilt can go up to 1 million resulting in revenues close to $5 billion.

Leveraging the India advantage
The need of the hour is a concentrated effort to market India as an attractive healthcare destination. An initiative in conjunction with the Indian Tourism Ministry that promotes India as a medical destination to attract more and more westerners is needed. A joint effort by the Ministry, health institutions, tour operators and agencies to promote India as a country that offers unique and diverse opportunities for tourists. The launch of medical tourism packages are a positive step in that direction.

The Rocky Road
The biggest challenge that the Indian medical industry has to overcome is to convince the travelers that they can be assured of the finest medical facilities and healthcare in India. The squalor, poverty and the state of the Indian public health system have found their place time and again in the foreign media. For an issue as sensitive as healthcare, it is not an easy decision for foreigners to forego the comfort available in their home countries and take a risk by opting for India.

Efforts to make destinations such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore easily accessible from various locations across the world with increased connectivity are the need of the hour.

The Indian medical industry is at crossroads with the best of facilities that need to reach out to the world. A concentrated effort to announce its availability to the masses across the universe will ensure that ‘Indian medical tourism’ thrives and gets it deserved place under the Sun.

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