India issued more than 1.78 lakh medical visas in 2016, including for follow up treatment, as against 1.22 lakh in 2015, according to the data. The number of medical visas issued by India rose by 45% in 2016 from the year before, as per data presented by the Home Affairs Ministry. It is an indication that India is rapidly becoming a hub of medical treatment for foreigners. In 2014, there were 184,298 Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA), in 2015 the number was 233,918 which jumped to 361,060 in 2016.
A Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report titled ‘India Services Sector- A Multi-trillion Dollar Opportunity for Global Symbiotic Growth 2017’ stated that the presence of world-class hospitals and skilled medical professionals has strengthened India’s position as a preferred destination for medical tourism. Treatment for major surgeries in India costs only a fraction—in some cases as low as 10% of that in developed countries.
The report also asserts that majority of the patients coming to India for treatment are from the Middle East, Africa, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. India’s cost advantage will significantly open doors to the U.S. and Europe over future, due to lower cost than the U.S. and almost half that of Europe.”
Dental tourism accounts for 10% of the medical tourism and the government is keen to promote it. India provides competitive cost advantage at one tenth of the cost of the U.S. and Europe. By 2020, medical tourism industry of India is expected to touch $8 billion.