E Visas helping wellness tourism in India


Move makes it easier for tourists to get visa on grounds of seeking traditional treatment

With the Centre enhancing e-tourist visa for foreigners intending to avail treatment under the Indian system of medicine, the healthcare industry is optimistic that the move would boost the thriving wellness tourism in the south.

The Union home ministry, a fortnight ago, permitted short term treatment under the traditional medicine including ayurveda, siddha and unani, as an activity allowed through e-tourist visa. Medical practitioners say the move would make it easier for international tourists to seek an e-visa on grounds of travelling to India exclusively for treatment in alternate medicine.

According to tourism sources, the average stay of an international tourist for ayurveda treatment in the country is six days. “The new initiative would benefit Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand which are the hub for ayurveda treatment. India is attracting a good number of tourists seeking treatment under the Indian system of medicine from Europe and Germany in particular, besides Russia,” Union tourism ministry joint secretary Suman Billa told TOI.

According to a KPMGFICCI report on medical value travel in India released in 2014, Chennai alone accounts for 40% of India’s medical tourist inflow. Noting that medical tourists also travel to India to make the most of ancient tradition of ayurveda and its low-cost medical tourism facilities, the report further said people are increasingly realising the importance of such alternative forms of treatment.
Siddha practitioners say some of their overseas patients have faced hardships while applying for visas to get treatment under the traditional medicine in India.

Prem Nath R, chairman of Council for Applied Siddha, an NGO based in Thiruvananthapuram said there were instances when letters were sent to the Indian mission abroad for visas. “I had to write to the Indian embassy in Malaysia for a patient, urging them to provide a visa to facilitate his travel to India for treatment under siddha,” he said. “Under such circumstances, the government’s decision to provide e-tourist visa would help in promoting our traditional medicine among foreigners, who are showing a keen interest in recent times,” Prem Nath said.

Prem Nath said over 5,000 international travellers visited Kerala for Siddha treatment in 2014, but the numbers dwindled in 2015 owing to various reasons including difficulties in accessing visas for treatment under Indian system of medicine.

The Central government has extended the e-tourist visa to 150 nations, wherein applicants in these countries can get the 30-day valid visa online without visiting the embassies for the purpose. Welcoming the initiative, CII Tamil Nadu Healthcare Panel convenor S Prakash said the Centre should take steps to maintain a registry of number of visitors who travel from abroad for treatment under the Indian system of medicine since such a mechanism in absent at present





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Medical Tourism Speaker and Consultant.

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