Role of FDI and the Growth of Medical Tourism

India's medical tourism industry could grow by 200% by 2020, hitting US$ 9 billion, according to Ministry of Tourism figures. In 2015, India ranked as the third most popular destination for medical tourism, when the industry was worth US$ 3 billion. The number of foreign tourists coming into the country on medical visas sat at nearly 234,000 that year. By 2017, the number of arrivals more than doubled to 495,056.

The presence of world-class hospitals, skilled medical professionals and low treatment cost in comparison to other countries, has strengthened India’s position as a preferred destination for medical tourism. Treatment for major surgeries in India costs approximately 20% of that in developed countries. India also attracts medical tourists from developing nations due to lack of advanced medical facilities in many of these countries.

There are many positive implications of FDI in healthcare sector and medical tourism. One of the major impacts that foreign investment would have is the creation of the necessary infrastructure. Investments are also needed beyond the metros to expand access to healthcare. In addition to helping increase physical capacity in the healthcare sector, such as increasing the number of hospital beds, diagnostic facilities, and increasing the supply of specialty and super specialty centers, FDI can also help in raising the standards and quality of healthcare, in upgrading technology, and in creating employment opportunities, with potential benefits to the health sector and the economy at large.