India’s Union Cabinet has said it is seeking trade feedback on the proposed Roadmap for Medical and Wellness Tourism as part of wider plans to revive tourism.
The Union Cabinet is considering a set of policy measures for the tourism ministry, including granting it infrastructure sector status.
The tourism industry has been one of the sectors hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and travel restrictions.
A report by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) stated that India’s tourism industry lost about 21 million jobs in just three quarters of the last financial year due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. In 2018, the travel and tourism industry was estimated to be worth US$234 billion and the largest service industry in India. It has also been one of the largest foreign exchange earners.
The Government is making serious efforts to boost investment in the tourism sector. The grant of infrastructure sector status will allow tourism companies to access longer maturity loans and flexibility refinancing through specialised lenders, with benefits including easier clearances for foreign direct investment.
The proposed new National Tourism Policy will include a revamp of India’s visa, immigration and customs policies. The changes aim to boost tourism, including medical tourism.
In July 2021, the tourism ministry drafted a proposal titled ‘National Strategy and Roadmap for Medical and Wellness Tourism’ and has requested recommendations and feedback from several Central Ministries, all state and local governments and administrations as well as industry partners to make the document more comprehensive.
India has the potential to expand as an international medical and health tourism destination, if the private sector invests in the Indian healthcare sector.