At a Wellness & Medical Value Tourism Conclave organised by the Indian Chambers of Commerce (IMC) at their Mumbai headquarters yesterday, panellists at a group discussion were unanimous in their opinion that India at large needs to work on the ‘image building’ at a global level to bridge the gap for Medical Tourism to reach its desired potential.
Ajay Prakash, President, Travel Agents Federation of India, said, “Medical Tourism is under developed in our country. There are serious gaps between our vision and the reality. The perception of India globally needs to be addressed by the government at a larger level. We in the travel industry are doing the support job for Medical Tourism, what is required is better coordination, and cooperation between the stakeholders. This is possible if we use the PPP mode for best ways to tap the opportunities for Medical Tourism.” Prakash called for dedicated spaces at tourism fairs for Medical Tourism, manned by medical practitioners along with the travel trade to showcase the facilities available in India at various levels for end to end treatment.
Param Kannampilly, CMD, Concept Hospitality Pvt. Ltd., The Fern Hotels & Resorts, said, “India has huge potential for Medical Tourism with the best doctors and facilities. However, we have only scratched the surface for Medical Tourism and the waiting time for approvals in enormous.” Kannampilly went on to say that long-staying guests are a key requirement for the hospitality industry, and hospitals need beds to be available to welcome new patients, therefore the post-operative care aspect of Medical Tourism needs a serious relook.
Moderator Farhat Jamal, Chairman, Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Committee, IMC, said, “The hospitality industry is not even tapping into the post-operative care opportunities, an important area for hotels to start focusing on.”
Vivek Braganza, Assistant Vice President, Shangri-La Group, shared, “The challenge is the very opportunity that we can tap into. There is a space to fine tune the consumer experience. Doctors at the hospital are the last leg of the value chain, it is the destination experience that comes first. It is all about creating an impression about India.” Citing the example of Singapore for its Medical Tourism infrastructure, Braganza said the city-state ranks excellent on the three aspects of destination attractiveness, safety & security, value of care. “India needs to improve further on the destination attractiveness aspect if Medical Tourism has to reach its desired potential.”