India targets Gulf medical tourists

India’s government, the Confederate of Indian Industries (CII), hospitals and others in healthcare have various plans to attract more foreign patients to India.

India’s NITI Aayog, a government policy think-tank, identifies medical tourism as a major source of foreign exchange earnings.  It is working on a plan for significant growth by 2020.

It projects that medical tourism revenue for India will reach (US$8bn) by 2020, compared to (US$4bn) now.

People often claim that India gets millions of medical tourists, but the official figures are significantly below that. The latest medical tourism numbers for India published by the government are:

  • 2015: 233,918
  • 2016: 427,014
  • 2017: 495,056

Neighbouring Bangladesh and Afghanistan continue as the top countries providing medical tourists to India. India also projects rising numbers of patients from Iraq, Oman, Yemen, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Oman is India’s biggest source market for medical tourists among Gulf countries, followed by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Official government support has been slow to come, is sporadic, and is mostly the type of support where the government does not have to spend money. For the latest analysis of inbound medical tourism to India, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.