Minister of State for Tourism claims 495k foreign patients in 2017

In a written response to the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament, KJ Alphons has said there were 4.95 lakh (hundred thousand) medical tourists to India in 2017. Of this, 221,000 were estimated to have come from Bangladesh, and further 55,681 from Afghanistan.

According to the response by the Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), KJ Alphons said that this medical tourist number had stood at around 2.34 lakh [hundred thousand] in 2015, and 4.27 lakh in 2016.

Bangladesh and Afghanistan continued to be the top countries from where the maximum number foreign tourist arrivals (for medical purpose) was seen. In 2017, about 2.21 lakh tourists from Bangladesh are estimated to have come to India for medical reasons, compared to 1.20 lakh in 2015 and 2.10 lakh in 2016. Likewise, the number of medical tourists from Afghanistan stood at 27,505 in 2015 and 61,231 in 2016. The number declined to 55,681 in 2017.

Other countries from where large numbers of medical tourists came to India include Iraq, Oman, Maldives, Yemen, Uzbekistan and Sudan.

Asked about the foreign exchange earned (FEE) from medical tourism, the Minister said the data was not separately available. “However, the provisional estimates of the total FEE through medical tourism during 2015, 2016 and 2017 were ₹1,35,193 crore, ₹1,54,146 crore, and ₹1,77,874 crore, respectively,” he said.

The Niti Aayog (a policy think tank of the Government of India) has identified medical value travel (MVT) as a major source of foreign exchange earnings. India currently has around 18% of the global medical tourism market. Its medical value travel (MVT) was pegged at $3 billion in 2015, and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 15%, according to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, FICCI and IMS Health, a health industry information firm.

It has been estimated that by 2020, India’s medical tourism industry could be worth $9 billion, and account for 20% of the global market share. The report pointed out that in curative care, India was the preferred destination for cardiology, orthopaedics, transplants, and ophthalmology. India also enjoyed high credibility in wellness, preventive, and alternative medicine.

News originally covered in The Hindu.