National Strategy and Roadmap for Medical and Wellness Tourism – UPSC GS3

  • Ministry of Tourism has formulated a National Strategy and Roadmap for Medical and Wellness Tourism.
  • The policy envisages promoting India as a Medical Value Travel (MVT) and Wellness destination.
What is Medical and Wellness Tourism?
  • Medical & Wellness tourism may be defined as ‘activities related to travel and hosting a foreign tourist who stays at least one night at the destination region for the purpose of maintaining, improving or restoring health through medical intervention’ .
What are the Key Points of the Roadmap?
  • Mission: To create a robust framework and synergy amongst the Ministries of Central Government and State Governments and Private Sector for promoting India as a Medical Value Travel (MVT) and Wellness destination.
  • New Agency:
    • A new National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board will be created as Minister of Tourism as its Chairman.
    • It will provide a dedicated institutional framework to take forward the cause of promotion of Wellness & Medical Tourism.
  • Key Strategic Pillars: The Strategy has identified the following key pillars:
    • Develop a brand for India as a wellness destination.
    • Strengthen the ecosystem for medical and wellness tourism.
    • Enable digitalization by setting up Online MVT Portal.
    • Enhancement of accessibility for MVT.
    • Promoting Wellness Tourism.
    • Governance and Institutional Framework.
Status of Medical and Wellness Tourism in India:
  • Strengths:
    • India has world-class doctors and hospitals
    • The cost of the treatment is a fraction of the cost in the source markets
    • The increasing popularity of India as a tourist destination in the west.
    • India offers a range of tourism opportunities to Medical Value Traveller to combine the treatment with visit to tourist destinations.
    • Eastern Healthcare (AYUSH) Wisdom along with the expertise of Western Medicine (Allopathy).
  • Weaknesses:
    • Unorganised MVT Framework: There are no regulations to govern MVT sector, which leaves the sector unorganised and lack of monitoring the quality of services.
    • Lack of a nodal body to spearhead Medical Value Travel.
    • No campaign for India as a MVT destination.
    • Lack of awareness about National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH) accreditation at the international level.
    • Lack of uniform pricing policies across the Hospitals.
    • Western perception of India as an unhygienic country.
  • Opportunities:
    • Demand from Countries with an Ageing population.
    • Demand for Wellness and Alternative cures.
    • Long waiting periods in developed countries.
    • Demand from countries with undeveloped medical facilities.
    • India has a huge diaspora and they can combine their visit to India with medical treatment.
    • Improved Connectivity.
  • Threats:
    • Regional Competition.
    • Lack of international accreditation.
    • Overseas medical care not covered by the insurer.
    • Exploitation by middlemen.
What are the Steps taken for the Promotion of Medical and Wellness Tourism?
  • The Ministry of Tourism, releases global print, electronic and online media campaigns in important and potential markets overseas, under the ‘Incredible India’ brand line.
  • ‘Medical Visa’ has been introduced, which can be given for specific purposes to foreign travellers coming to India for medical treatment.
  • ‘E- Medical Visa’ and ‘E-Medical Attendant Visa’ have also been introduced for 156 countries.
  • The Ministry of Tourism provides financial Assistance under Market Development Assistance Scheme to Medical Tourism Service Providers accredited by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) for participation in Medical/ Tourism activities.
Way Forward:
  • ‘One India One Tourism’ Approach: Tourism encompasses multiple ministries and takes place in and within many states and thus requires collective efforts and cooperation with centre and other states.
  • Promoting Ease of Tourism: To truly ensure a seamless tourist transportation experience we need to standardise all interstate road taxes and make them payable at a single point which will facilitate the ease of doing business.
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