The coronavirus pandemic has devastated medical tourism, but pent-up demand remains for affordable treatment in India.
About 825,000 medical visas were issued to foreigners, mostly in African nations, between 2019 and 2021, the Home Ministry said on Tuesday.
“A total of 410,677, 142,928 and 272,190 foreigners arrived on medical visas in 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively,” said Nityanand Rai, Minister of State for Home.
The numbers are significant, despite international travel restrictions because of the coronavirus.
The global medical tourism market is estimated to be worth about $72 billion. Countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are leading destinations for medical tourism.
India’s medical tourism industry was expected to be worth $9bn in 2020, according to industry body the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Last year, the country ranked 10th in the world in the Medical Tourism Index compiled by the Medical Tourism Association.
The country has almost 600 globally and nationally accredited hospitals that provide world-class treatment.
Foreign visitors seek treatment in medical centres such as Delhi and Mumbai, as well as smaller cities where costs are lower.