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Medical tourism to get boost with Centre's 5 lakh free tourist visa scheme, say experts

According to government, around 10.93 million foreign tourists visited India in 2019, spent about $30.098 billion on leisure, business and medical treatment.

June 28, 2021 / 06:04 PM IST
Shalby | Shah Family Trust, one of the promoters of Shalby, proposed to sell up to 58.1 lakh equity shares of the company (representing 5.38 percent of total paid-up equity) via offer for sale on April 26 and April 27. The floor price for the offer has been fixed at Rs 111 per share.

Shalby | Shah Family Trust, one of the promoters of Shalby, proposed to sell up to 58.1 lakh equity shares of the company (representing 5.38 percent of total paid-up equity) via offer for sale on April 26 and April 27. The floor price for the offer has been fixed at Rs 111 per share.

 
 
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Medical tourism which took a big hit due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, is expected  to get a boost, with the Central government on June 28 announcing free tourist visa to Rs 5 lakh tourists.

"It will be very helpful for medical tourists. COVID completely stopped medical tourism. Teritiary care operators are especially hit," said Dr Alok Roy, Chairman of Kolkata-based Medica Superspecialty Hospital.

Roy is also the chair of FICCI Health Services Committee.

"Once visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh tourist visas will be issued free of charge," the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"This benefit will be available only once per tourist," Sitharaman clarified.

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The scheme will be applicable till March 31, 2022 or till 5 lakh visa are issued, whichever is earlier. The government said the total financial implication will be around Rs 100 crore.

According to government, around 10.93 million foreign tourists visited India in 2019, spent about $30.098 billion on leisure, business and medical treatment. Average daily stay for a foreign tourist in India is 21 days. Averagae daily spending of a tourist in India is around $34 or Rs 2400. For large private hospital chains medical tourism over the years has become an important revenue stream with decent realisations.

The average revenue per occupied bed (ARPOB) from medical travelers is double than the local patient. Since most foreign patients meet the expense out-of-pocket, hospitals will get instant payment without relying on insurance, where the package rates are low and payments are delayed.

Big hospital chains like Apollo Hospitals, Fortis Healthcare, Max Healthcare, Aster DM Healthcare, Narayana Health among others are earning around high single to low teens from medical travelers.

According to EY, India has 38 Joint Commission International- accredited hospitals, the fourth highest after Brazil, Thailand and Turkey. The savings of medical treatment costs in India with respect to US, is the highest at 65-90 percent.

Medical tourism industry is growing at 18% CAGR year on year and is expected to be worth $9 billion by 2020

The major destination cities in India are Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. A total of 27 percent of medical travellers visit Maharashtra out of which 80 percent goes to Mumbai, Chennai attracts nearly 15 percent while Kerala handles around 5-7 percent.



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Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.
first published: Jun 28, 2021 04:30 pm
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