Bureau of Immigration stats show the key sources for medical tourists to India were Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Maldives, Oman and Yemen. The main treatments are for heart surgery, knee transplant, cosmetic surgery and dental care, and the preferred states for this treatment are Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat. The Seychelles also had an increase in people arriving on medical visas.
Figures from the Ministry of Tourism, received from the Bureau of Immigration, Government of India, state 495,000 medical tourists to India in 2017. Of these, 221,751 were Bangladeshi followed by patients from Afghanistan (55,681), Iraq (47,640), Maldives (45,355), Oman (28,157) and Yemen (11,903). The Seychelles, from where only five people came on medical visas in 2015, reported 939 medical tourists in 2017.
The number increased marginally in case of people coming from developed countries like US (615 in 2015 to 649 in 2017), UK (609 to 755), France (56 to 97) and Germany (52 to 109).
According to the report, the Indian medical tourism industry gets maximum patients for heart surgery, knee transplant, cosmetic surgery and dental care, as the cost of treatment here is considered the lowest in Asia, much lower than Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Hongkong.
The preferred states for medical treatment are Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat.
To promote medical tourism, the government has removed visa restriction on tourist visas which required a two-month gap between consecutive visits for people from the gulf countries.
A visa-on-arrival scheme for tourists from select countries has also been instituted which allows foreign nationals to stay in India for 30 days for medical reasons.
The full article was published in The Sunday Guardian.