Published on : Wednesday, March 24, 2021
India’s positive move of reaching out to countries, providing medical assistance, supplying COVID-19 vaccines, along with essential drugs and equipment during the pandemic has earned it goodwill globally. Experts have opined that going forward, these initiatives will become a game changer for India’s medical tourism sector.
Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India have witnessed a significant increase over the past decade. International tourist arrivals on medical visas increased more than six times from 112,389 in 2009 to 697,453 in 2019, as per official data.
Succeeding lockdowns following the spread of pandemic last year, world-wide travel restrictions and cancelation of all non-emergency surgeries resulted in delay of medical procedures for international patients in India, and this affected the sector as an outcome. However, with easing of travel restrictions and economic activities coming back to normal, the sector’s recovery is expected to speed up.
To quote Piyush Tiwari, Director (Commercial & Marketing), India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) Limited, “Vaccine Maitri has provided India a platform with enhanced credibility in terms of medical capability and reliability. Eventually, whenever the situation across the world normalizes and medical tourism starts to recover, India is likely to be one of the biggest gainer destinations and is likely to leap way forward ahead of its competitors due to its new found credibility and recognition as a reliable and capable medical hub.”
India has supplied COVID-19 vaccines to more than 70 countries as of March 22. Of these, 14 percent supplies are in the form of grants, 29 percent are under COVAX facility and 57 percent are commercial supplies.
“The Vaccine Maitri initiative has raised India’s global image as a nation that has advanced [Research and Development] R&D in medicine and the best of scientists, doctors and technology to lead the world in facing any health challenge,” said Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group.
“Medical Value Travel is an important contributor to revenue for hospitals and brings in precious foreign exchange for the country, and the pandemic affected this with a consequential impact on revenues from this medical tourism. We harnessed the power of digital technology to provide virtual consultations and telemedicine services to our patients abroad,” said Dr. Reddy.