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Punjab visions for medical tourism

Pankaj Dhiman | Chandigarh | Updated :

With the medical tourism registering a global growth rate of 27 per cent, the Punjab government is also looking at the possibilities to boost medical tourism in the state which accounts for the one-third of the non-resident Indians (NRIs).

“We have done our homework and major giants in the industry are ready to invest. We will use state’s land as equity under public private partnership. The medical tourism policy will be focused on medical facilities for NRIs, patients from abroad seeking economical medical treatment. Punjab has great potential in medical tourism with one third of NRI population is Punjabi,” said Punjab Tourism and Culture Affairs minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu.

He said, the state witnesses nearly one lakh tourists in the holy city Amritsar on daily basis. He also said that the rich religious, historical legacy, rich tradition, culture, heritage, arts and handicrafts of the state provide access to more than 11 per cent of Indian population. Proximity to other larger markets like Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir is another major advantage, said Sidhu.

As per the recent figures, in 2016, Punjab has been ranked one in terms of foreign tourist visit with a whopping increase of 172.21 per cent. Similarly, the state was ranked at second spot with 50.03 per cent domestic tourist visits in 2016 as per the Union Ministry of Tourism. In the roadmap prepared for achieving targets set up for medical tourism in next 4.5 years, the state government has launched a campaign ‘India Begins Here’ while aiming to hold a global summit on medical tourism.

The Tourism Department has also mooted a proposal to set up a state level medical tourism council, formation of the Punjab Association of Health Tourism while introducing special international health insurance of Punjabi NRIs. Punjab Tourism director, Shivdular Singh Dhillion said Punjab is very popular in the international community as Punjabis particularly Sikh Community have a presence in over 67 countries. Punjab is on the top in India so far as infrastructure like roads, bridges and rail is quite better than other states. He said the hospitals like All Indian Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) and Tata Cancer are upcoming.

Citing the global health trends in a detailed report submitted to the state government, the state Tourism and Cultural Affair Department has mentioned the human life expectancy has gone up to 90 years from 72 years in the last 30 years. While the United States, western Europe and middle east has aging population, Africa does not have any credible medical facilities of health care.

Aiming to bring out an exclusive medical tourism policy, the department has stated that major human organs like hip, shoulders and knees are not lasting as the population lives longer and the lifestyle related diseases are on the rise. The access to whole of central Asian countries, connected by road to Afghanistan and Pakistan which contributes over 25 per cent of Indian medical tourism in Punjab may further boost economy of cash starved Punjab in next four years.

Globally, a practice that continued for over 2,000 years, from the 18th century, wealthy Europeans travelled to Spain from Germany to the Nile. Medical tourism is diversifying from core medical treatment to prevent medical services, to luxurious health services, to the alternate system of medicines, to wellness. Medical tourism is a popular mass culture where people travel to overseas countries to obtain healthcare services and facilities such as medical, dental, surgical care, wellness whilst having the opportunity to visit the tourist spots of that country. Driving factors of medical tourism in India are the exorbitant health care costs in industrialised nation. Also, the long waiting list for surgery, favourable currency rate, giving proven safety of health in developing countries, growing International accreditation of hospitals in developing countries are among the other major factors.

Relaxation in Government Regulations

Ayurveda and Naturopathy treatment and greater natural heritage in making global patients to combine medication and tourism with medical tourists visiting home countries. Major destination for medical tourism are Thailand, India, South Korea, Singapore, Barbados, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, South Africa, France, Germany, Turkey, UK and US. Due to tourist places and visa relaxation the most popular destinations for medical tourism are Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea are much sought after nations.

India Medical Tourist Sector

India medical cost saving is 70 to 80 per cent, which is largest in the world. India has over 9.50 lakh world class English speaking professionals. India has over 25 lakh well trained nurses and the country is producing over 60,000 MBBS graduates per annum. Over 45 per cent of total revenue receipts of leading hospitals in India are from medical tourism. Over 60 per cent of Indian doctors have international qualifications. Chennai is termed as India’s health capital having 45 per cent share in India’s medical tourism market. Similarly, Bangladesh and Afghanistan contribute 34 per cent of the Indian medical tourism market. Also, Russia and Common Wealth Independent States shares 30 per cent of Indian medical tourism market.

Global cost savings trends in medical treatment


Country Cost Saving in percent


75 to 90


50 to 75


50 to 65


45 to 65


40 to 65


40 to 55


30 to 45


25 to 45