Updated On: January 18, 2024 by Aya Radwan
The global medical tourism market is growing with each passing day, and one of the most prominent markets is the Indian medical tourism market. Since the 2010s, India has been building a name for itself as a desirable destination for medical tourism. These initiatives proved fruitful, which prompted the Indian government to invest in this growing market, grant concessions, provide expansive training programmes and facilitate visa procedures.
We aim to analyse the Indian medical tourism market, the latest trends and growth in the market, and the positive and negative impact of Indian medical tourism. So, stick around as we compile all these in a comprehensive Indian medical tourism statistics article.
What is Medical Tourism?
Medical Health Tourism refers to travelling and staying in the destination country or city to restore, maintain or improve one’s health through medical intervention. This medical intervention, in the sense of Indian Medical Tourism, includes Medical Treatments, such as surgeries in numerous fields, such as heart surgery and organ transplants. It also includes Rejuvenation Methods and Surgeries, such as plastic surgery and stress relief, and Traditional Medical Treatments, such as yoga classes and Naturopathy.
What is Wellness Tourism?
Wellness tourism refers to travel specifically aimed at improving or maintaining your overall well-being, encompassing physical, mental, and emotional dimensions. It goes beyond the traditional vacation, focusing on activities and experiences that promote physical health through fitness activities like yoga, hiking and cycling, mental well-being through mindful practices like meditation, and stress-reduction techniques and access to mental health professionals and emotional balance through rejuvenating environments and cultural immersion.
Medical Tourism vs Wellness Tourism
Even though many combine wellness tourism and medical tourism, they are different and serve distinctive audiences. Medical tourism focuses on enhancing health, where patients travel from their country to the destination to seek treatment or enhancement. People travel for medical purposes when they find better pricing, availability and quality medical services in the destination country. These factors mean that successful medical tourism depends on the destination country’s availability and successful medical sector.
On the other hand, wellness tourism is when visitors seek to extend their mental health, wellness lifestyle and wellbeing. Successful wellness tourism depends on recreation, luxury, leisure, industry culture and customer mindsets. It is possible to combine medical and wellness tourism when the destination country’s medical services and recreational activities align to meet the tourist’s needs.
Indian Medical Tourism Statistics: Market Overview
The Indian medical tourism market witnessed a steady rise in the early 2010s, reaching an estimated $5-6 billion by 2019. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant decline in international arrivals, with strict limitations on travellers’ ability to seek medical healthcare abroad. Recent reports suggest a rebound in the Indian medical tourism market, with estimates of over 504,000 million medical tourists visiting India in 2023 alone.
The Indian medical tourism market, valued at USD 7.69 billion in 2024, is witnessing significant growth and emerging as a competitive global medical tourism market player. A recent study, with 2023 as the base year, it estimated the size of the Indian medical tourism market to reach $14.31 billion in 2029 at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 13.23% during this period of time.
Indian Medical Tourism Market vs Global Medical Tourism Market
India’s medical tourism market stands at a strong $7.69 billion. This is big, but the global market is bigger, reaching $60-80 billion. In 2022 alone, it was worth $4.5 billion in 2022 alone and is expected to exceed $43 billion by 20230 and $346.1 billion two years later! Around 14 million people fly across borders for health care every year.
There are more medical tourists in the world than India has right now. But India’s growth rate is fast – over 11% each year! With this speed, we can quickly catch up with the rest of the world and gain a good place in this industry.
The Indian medical tourism market is quite competitive, with many destinations vying for the attention of medical tourists. Popular competitors include Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Barbados, and Singapore. These countries also compete against Middle Eastern destinations such as Turkey and Dubai.
However, India offers unique advantages that set it apart from its competitors. For instance, India has a reputation for providing high-quality healthcare at affordable prices where tourists can save 60% to 80% of the general cost, including accommodation. The country also boasts many internationally accredited hospitals and highly qualified doctors.
Additionally, India’s diverse cultural heritage, tourist attractions and vibrant food and spice scene make it an inviting destination for medical tourists seeking to combine their treatment with a memorable travel experience or seeking to combine medical and wellness tourism.
Factors Driving Growth in Indian Medical Tourism
Despite the feverish competition in the global medical tourism market, India’s medical tourism market is growing steadily. There are several factors contributing to this steady growth.
Rapid Infrastructure Development
The rapid infrastructure development in India has played a significant role in the growth of medical tourism. The country has substantially invested in building world-class healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and specialised treatment centres. This increase in building healthcare centres in the country is complemented by hiring many English-speaking healthcare providers such as doctors and nurses, making communication with your healthcare provider there a problem of the past.
Infrastructure development includes improved connectivity and transportation systems. This development makes it easier for international tourists to access these healthcare facilities and enjoy visiting tourist destinations nationwide. After many places around the country once suffered from a lack of medical healthcare, telemedicine and digital health technologies make treatment and consultations available anywhere in the country.
Government Support and Workforce Expansion
The Indian government has been supporting the growth of medical tourism in the country. They have implemented policies and adopted initiatives to attract more international patients, such as providing easier visa processes, incentives for medical facilities and training programmes for medical health workers, including nurses, doctors and all workers in the field.
The government has also invested in improving healthcare infrastructure, ensuring high-quality standards, and promoting India as a leading destination for affordable and high-quality medical treatments. This support from the government has played a significant role in boosting the growth of the Indian medical tourism industry by attracting more tourists and generating revenue for the country.
The Combination of Medical and Wellness Tourism
Indian medical tourism goes beyond traditional medical treatments to emphasise a holistic approach to healing and rejuvenation. This means that alongside medical procedures, patients can experience personalised treatments based on ancient Indian principles known as Ayurvedic therapies, which focus on diet, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes to balance the body’s energies. They can also try yoga for physical and breathing exercises to promote flexibility, strength and mental well-being. Meditation, mindfulness practices, and nature immersion help reduce stress and raise self-awareness.
The combination of medical and wellness health goes beyond providing healthcare on the spot. It teaches patients about preventative healthcare by combining several practices, such as Ayurveda and yoga, to promote long-term health and well-being. This combination also allows patients to focus on personal growth through self-discovery, stress management and improved overall lifestyle. This unique blend of medical treatments and holistic practices distinguishes Indian medical tourism from the same services in other competing markets.
Prominent Cities for Medical Tourism
When it comes to Indian medical tourism, several prominent cities attract a large number of visitors seeking healthcare services. One such city is Chennai, known for its advanced healthcare facilities and renowned hospitals. With specialities like cardiology, oncology, and organ transplants, Chennai offers top-notch medical treatments.
We can add Delhi as one of the popular cities in Indian medical tourism. The capital city boasts state-of-the-art hospitals and experienced doctors specialising in various fields. Delhi provides medical tourists with various medical healthcare services, such as orthopaedic procedures and cosmetic surgeries.
Mumbai is also a significant destination for medical travellers. The city is home to world-class hospitals offering cutting-edge technologies and highly skilled doctors in areas such as neurosurgery, fertility treatments, and organ transplantation.
In addition to these cities, Bangalore has emerged as a destination for medical tourism with its advanced healthcare infrastructure and specialised clinics in fields like dentistry and reproductive medicine. There are many players in the medical tourism market in India, including Clinicspots at the top of the diagram, followed by Vaidam, MediConnect India, Forerunners Healthcare and Mediniq.
Popular Categories in Indian Medical Tourism
We can divide Indian medical tourism into two main categories. The first uses the Service Provider, which includes public and private healthcare facilities. The second category is the Treatment Type category, which includes some of the treatments India has excelled at providing over the past years, contributing to the country’s growth in medical tourism. Let’s examine the second category in Indian medical tourism further to examine the various treatment types and wellness services.
Medical Treatment Types
Indian medical tourism statistics elaborate on the various types of treatments available for medical tourists in India. Some popular treatment options include IVF treatments, cardiac surgery, cosmetic surgeries, dental procedures, organ transplants, traditional medicine and orthopaedic surgeries. Many of these treatments are available in the medical tourism zones the government established to serve medical tourists.
These treatments are known for their high quality and affordable costs in Indian medical tourism compared to other countries. Many tourists come to India specifically for these treatments because they can save money without compromising the quality of care. Whether you’re seeking a specific medical procedure or just want to explore wellness options during your trip to India, a wide range of treatment types are available to meet your needs.
Wellness services play a crucial role in the Indian medical tourism industry. They cater to various needs and preferences with spa retreats, yoga, meditation classes, Ayurvedic treatments and detox programmes. India’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for wellness tourism.
The Indian government’s infrastructure development, medical facilitations and concessions allowed the country to offer top-notch facilities for wellness services. Whether you want to rejuvenate your mind or pamper your body, India provides diverse options that suit different budgets and preferences.
Types of Tours in the Indian Medical Tourism Industry
There are various types of tours available for medical tourists visiting India. Solo travellers can opt for personalised itineraries catering to their needs and preferences. Their flexibility allows them to seek medical care at numerous venues such as government hospitals, where several excel in certain fields than others, charitable clinics and missions or centres of Ayurvedic and Traditional Medicine.
On the other hand, backpackers can enjoy budget-friendly tours that combine medical treatments with sightseeing. They can benefit from the same medical healthcare facilities in the Indian medical tourism market as solo travellers. These tours provide an opportunity to experience local culture, visit historical sites, and try authentic cuisines while undergoing medical procedures.
Luxury travellers can indulge in high-end medical tourism packages offering top-notch healthcare facilities, luxurious accommodations, and exclusive services. They can relax and rejuvenate at luxury holistic wellness resorts after their treatments. These packages offer more exclusive services, such as concierge services that include airport transfers, visa assistance, cultural immersion experiences and retail shopping sprees. Numerous luxurious state-of-the-art medical facilities in India include Max Healthcare, based in Delhi and Manipal Hospitals in Bangalore.
Foodies can experience the newest trend in Indian medical tourism that derives its roots from old traditions when food was one of the pieces completing the healing process cycle. Culinary medical tours in India allow travellers to discover how specific Indian dishes and dietary practices can enhance one’s well-being and immerse themselves in the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda, exploring its connection with food and dietary recommendations for different doshas (body types).
Consumer Demographics in Indian Medical Tourism
The Indian medical tourism market attracts a diverse range of consumers. Let’s examine these consumer demographics further by dividing them by age, nationality, income, health concerns and technology adoption.
Average Traveller Age Seeking Indian Medical Tourism
The primary age group for medical tourism in India is between 35 and 55 years old. This group typically has established careers, disposable income, and a focus on preventative healthcare. There’s an increasing interest from both younger and older age groups. Younger patients seek affordable cosmetic procedures, while older populations opt for treatments like joint replacements or cardiac care.
Where Do Travellers Seeking Indian Medical Care Come From?
Regarding nationalities, Indian medical tourism serves travellers from all over the world. Bangladesh, Iraq, Afghanistan, Oman, and Maldives are some of the leading source countries for medical tourists visiting India. On the other hand, countries like Nigeria, Kenya, and Sri Lanka are showing promising growth as medical tourism destinations in India.
The Income of Travellers Seeking Indian Medical Care
The cost-effectiveness of treatments in India drives many medical tourists. This attracts patients from developing and middle-income countries. However, India also caters to a growing segment of affluent medical tourists from Western countries seeking luxury experiences and top-notch medical care at competitive prices.
What Health Concerns Do Travellers Seeking Indian Medical Care Have?
Cardiac surgery, orthopaedics, oncology, cosmetic surgery, and dentistry are among the most sought-after procedures in Indian medical tourism. Interest in alternative therapies like Ayurveda and holistic wellness practices is also rising, attracting patients seeking preventative care and natural healing approaches.
How Do Travellers in the Indian Medical Tourism Market Find Their Desired Treatment?
Many medical tourists in India are tech-savvy individuals researching providers and comparing treatments online. They rely on online reviews, testimonials, and social media platforms for information. Healthcare providers must invest in a strong online presence, user-friendly websites, and digital communication channels to attract and engage this tech-savvy clientele.
How Do You Book Your Medical Tourism Experience in India?
Now, let’s talk about how you can book your medical tourism experience in India. There are various booking channels available to suit different preferences. You can choose to book directly with the healthcare facility or hospital of your choice. They often have dedicated international patient departments to assist you throughout the process.
Consider using a reputable medical tourism facilitator who understands the Indian healthcare system and can offer personalised recommendations, assistance with visa processing, and logistics coordination. These facilitators provide a one-stop solution, handling everything from appointments and visas to travel logistics and accommodation arrangements.
If you prefer personalising your experience, you can contact travel agencies that specialise in Indian medical tourism and offer pre-packaged tours, including hospital visits, accommodation, and local sightseeing. These operators help you combine medical treatment and sightseeing opportunities, making it an ideal choice for those seeking healthcare while exploring tourist destinations in India.
Several medical facilities in India have online platforms through which you can contact them directly and book medical treatments for more convenience and accessibility. These platforms allow you to compare different hospitals, check reviews from previous patients, and make direct bookings online.
Social and Economic Implications of Indian Medical Tourism
Medical tourism has had positive and negative social and economic implications for the country. These implications vary between attracting investments and the commodification of healthcare in this southern Asia country.
Positive Social and Economic Implications of Indian Medical Tourism
Positive impacts of the Indian medical tourism industry include attracting investments in the country’s healthcare infrastructure, leading to the development of modern hospitals, advanced technology, and highly skilled medical professionals. This benefits medical tourists and the local population with improved access to quality healthcare. Medical tourism creates many employment opportunities in healthcare, hospitality, travel, and allied sectors. This contributes to poverty reduction, improved incomes, and overall economic growth.
Medical tourism fosters cultural exchange and understanding between India and its foreign visitors. Tourists experience India’s diverse traditions, languages, and customs, while locals get familiar with different cultures and perspectives. The popularity of Ayurveda and other holistic practices among medical tourists helps showcase India’s rich history of traditional medicine and encourages its revival and integration with modern healthcare practices.
Medical tourism is a significant source of foreign exchange for India, contributing to its economic growth and stability. The growth of Indian medical tourism benefits travel, hospitality, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries, leading to economic diversification and job creation.
Increased tourism revenue can be invested in infrastructure development like airports, roads, and public transportation, benefiting tourists and local residents. The economic benefits of Indian medical tourism must be balanced with ensuring healthcare remains affordable and accessible for the larger Indian population.
Negative Social and Economic Implications of Indian Medical Tourism
Rising demand for medical services due to medical tourism can potentially lead to inflation in healthcare costs, making essential services less accessible to the local population. The lure of higher salaries and better working conditions in private hospitals catering to medical tourists can lead to a shortage of skilled medical professionals in public hospitals and rural areas.
The focus on profitability driven by medical tourism can shift the priority from patient well-being to maximising revenue, potentially compromising ethical medical practices. Unregulated commercialisation of traditional therapies like Ayurveda can result in their misrepresentation and exploitation, impacting their cultural significance and authenticity.
Indian medical tourism holds immense potential for growth, fuelled by affordability, quality care, and a focus on holistic wellness. Addressing the challenges and capitalising on emerging opportunities will be key to India’s position as a leading global medical tourism destination.
When did medical tourism start in India?
Indian medical tourism began with traditional medicine and treatments. Over 5,000 years ago, people from different countries sought to learn and benefit from Ayurvedic medicine and yoga methods. Travellers from all walks of life learned about the effectiveness of these treatments and travelled long distances to benefit from them.
What is India’s Medical Tourism Index?
The Medical Tourism Index is a global index that ranks countries offering medical tourism worldwide by the attractiveness of their medical tourism atmosphere. This index ranked India at no. 10 out of 46 worldwide destinations. In 2023, India’s rank jumped to no. 7 out of 20 worldwide destinations.
Which country most medical tourists come to India?
In 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak, tourists from Bangladesh made up most medical tourists to India. In 2023, Bangladesh came second after Turkey, followed by Afghanistan and Oman.