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The government has released a draft strategy to boost travel in the wake of Covid-19 by promoting the country as a medical and wellness tourism destination.
To achieve the same, in its draft recommendations released past Friday, the ministry of tourism suggested a restructuring of the National Medical & Wellness Tourism Promotion Board, headed by the Union minister, and a more liberalised visa policy.
“The board will be restructured to streamline its functioning and discharge its responsibilities as one-stop centre for medical value travel. The board will have an advisory committee, a technical committee and an executive committee to discharge its functions,” it said in its June 12 draft, seeking comments from the public till June 30. “In post Covid-19, demand for wellness travel will increase and it provides a great opportunity to India with its varied offerings,” the draft added.
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The board was constituted in 2015 to “provide dedicated institutional framework to take forward the cause of promotion of medical and wellness tourism, including the Indian system of medicine covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopath (AYUSH).”
Thailand, Mexico, US, Singapore, India, Brazil, Turkey, and Taiwan are the top destinations in terms of number of patients for medical value travel. “The global medical value travel market size is in the range of USD 60-80 Billion and some 141 million people travel across the borders for medical tourism . India has been ranked 10th in Medical Tourism Index (MTI) for 2020-21 out of 46 destinations of the world by Medical Tourism Association,” the draft said. “Global Wellness Institute has estimated global wellness tourism market to be USD 639 Billion in 2017 with Secondary wellness travellers accounting for 89% of the trips and 86% of the expenditure. Domestic wellness travel contributing 82% of total trips and 65% of expenditure,” it says. Global Wellness Institute is a non-profit organisation with a mission to empower wellness worldwide by educating public and private sectors.
As per estimates by Global Wellness Tourism Index, as mentioned in the report, India ranked 7th position in 2017 with 56 million trips in wellness tourism and total revenue of USD 16.3 Billion.
The draft also identified the lack of government regulations for the sector and also the absence of a nodal body to spearhead Medical Value Travel as areas that need special attention. “Under Heal in India campaign, an integrated communication strategy to promote brand India will be prepared and executed in partnership with the industry. This will be promoted as a sub brand of Incredible India on all the digital platforms and global media campaign of the ministry,” it said.
It has also proposed a more liberalised visa policy. “India has already introduced e-VISA and other measures to facilitate medical value travellers to visit India. India will further liberalise and put in place a holistic and transparent visa regime to make it more patient friendly,” it said.