Does Wellness & Medical Tourism Need More Recognition This Budget?

In the last union budget, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has earmarked an allocation of Rs 2400 crore to the tourism ministry

The Indian Ministry of Tourism has identified wellness tourism as one of the niche tourism products. The Indian system of yoga healing has been featured prominently in the amazing India campaigns of the Ministry of Tourism. In fact, such wellness has become a unique selling point of Indian tourism.

With a wide range of services such as yoga, ayurveda, unani, siddha, homeopathy and sowa rigpa, in addition to other wellness solutions, the healthcare industry in India has tremendous growth potential when it comes to attracting customers travelling from all over the world.

In the last union budget, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has earmarked an allocation of Rs 2400 crore to the Ministry of Tourism. The allocation was 18.42 per cent higher than the budget allocation for the year 2021-22. With this, expectations rise for more allocation in terms of wellness and medical tourism from Union Budget 2023-24.

Rajeev Taneja, Founder of Global Care said, “The Medical Value Tourism sector has suffered a series of setbacks in the last two years and our expectations as an industry from the budget are to support the sector’s recovery. Facilities including visa approvals and ease of access, a repository for accessing information and infrastructure development in not just the metro cities but pan India as well for pre and post-treatment care are a few important steps that need to be accommodated in the budget. These will help boost investment and incentivise the industry, particularly in Tier 2 cities across the country."

We are hopeful that the budget will extend valuable opportunities to aid faster growth for the industry. As the sector contributes significantly to the influx of the forex and contributes greatly to the economy and employment, it needs to be a priority in the budget as well, he said. "Currently, India is getting to position itself as a global wellness destination and we need to make sure that the facilities and treatments are at par with the international standard and a favorable budget will help with the same.”

If seen globally, wellness tourism is now worth about half a trillion dollars a year. India's wellness economy (all segments combined) is worth about USD 77 billion. It shows strong growth in the years before the pandemic and is likely to reappear in the future.

Nikhil Kapur, Co - founder and Director of Atmantan Wellness Centre said, "We expect government to add incentives for individuals who understand the need for preventive healthcare and natural healing. Informed and proactive individuals who choose to travel to NABH-accredited wellness centres, like Atmantan, or subscribe to online health plans, should also be rewarded with lower insurance premiums, LTA benefits etc."

Individuals who are cognizant of the fact that good health is the key to a higher happiness index and a better nation should be incentivised. Thus they will also not add to the already stressed medical infrastructure of the country. 

"There is an urgent requirement for the government of India to extend all the EPCG licences for another 5 years to help the hospitality industry tide over the current situation. Since the international travel sentiment remains uncertain for the next 9-12 months (due to the Geo political stress in the west among other reasons), the foreign income in our sectors is not yet as high as the pre-covid levels," Kapur said.

While Seema Rekha, Managing Director of Antarmanh Consulting said, "The path to the future of the workplace is centered around wellness. Healthcare and tourism are one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Medical Value Travel, as a fusion product of these industries is being promoted. There are numerous perks associated with this valued travel like affordability and accessibility, latest medical services and accreditations etc. These are all being recognised and promoted heavily by our neighboring countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. It is high time that our government takes this as a priority and amplifies this as an opportunity. This should even be prioritised since our indigenous habitat has a lot to offer in terms of landscapes, heritage, natural geos and topographical ethnicity making this highly advantageous."

The government must take this revolutionary opportunity to leverage the pool of already existent resources. The major steps by the Ministry of Ayush have already propagated and are excelling at provision of traditional therapies and these initiatives would help leveling it up manifolds, she said. "Government forums, the public and the HR leaders in the private sector have been implementing several strategies to create a positive employee experience. Giving employees the flexibility to work from any location has been quite a beneficial trend since millennials are pro-traveling. Tourism, centered on discovery and novelty encourages cognitive flexibility and adaptability which are crucial virtues for enhanced performance."

Yoga and Ayurveda has been the oldest traditions of India, and people around the planet are now keen on practising these for health and wellness. In the coming years, India can become a global wellness tourist attraction point if the government and the industry collaborate in strengthening the sector.


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