TMJ Global

Medical Value Tourism emerges as new mantra for Kerala hospitality sector

25 Oct 2023   |   4 min Read
K P Sethunath

The hospitality and healthcare sector in Kerala is leveraging the unique strengths of the two segments to make the state the global hub of Medical Value Tourism (MVT) in the country. Kerala, already known as a MICE destination (Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) has great potential to emerge as the MVT destination in India with its exceptional strengths in Ayurveda and modern medicine.

Industry leaders from these sectors said ayurveda, modern medicine and tourism will join hands to display the strengths of God’s Own Country during the two-day Kerala Health Tourism and Global Ayurveda Summit to be held on October 26 and 27. The summit is organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (Kerala Chapter). Travel and tourism sector in the country is poised for an ‘explosive growth’ after witnessing sharp fall in foreign tourist arrivals in India and Indian tourists traveling abroad due to the pandemic, they said.

Travel and tourism industry in the country may witness explosive growth in 2024 with most people discarding the pandemic induced lethargy, said Jose Dominic, a doyen of the hospitality industry in Kerala. Domestic tourists will drive growth as the number of Indian tourists traveling abroad has witnessed a drastic fall due to very high flight charges and stringent VISA approval norms in many countries.

Jose Dominic | Photo: Facebook
Flight charges to London from India is around INR 1.5 lakh per compared with INR 45,000 before the pandemic, he said, and added that one out of three VISA applications are rejected. High flight charges and strict VISA norms in many countries have become a deterrence for the 26 million Indian tourists going abroad before the pandemic. “A great chunk of this 26 million has opted for domestic travel and that provides a great opportunity for Kerala. The state is also in for a double whammy with the expected increase in the footfall of foreign tourists”, he added.

Focusing on Medical Value Tourism (MVT) assumes significance with the inherent strengths of Kerala in Ayurveda and modern medicine. “Kerala is synonymous with authentic ayurveda and we needed to leverage the same with the great potential that exists with modern medical systems in the state”, said Dr Sajikumar, Managing Director of Dhathri Ayurveda Pvt Ltd and Chairman of Global Ayurveda Summit Conference. ‘We needed to leverage and complement the strengths of the two systems to derive maximum benefit for the state”, he added.

Dr PM Varier Chief Physician and Managing Trustee of Kottakal Arya Vaidyasala said people from 60 countries seek ayurveda treatment in the facilities of Arya Vaidyasala in the state. “Majority of the patients seeking treatments linked to neurological, geriatric, rheumatic and other ailments. We have very few people coming for the wellness treatment per se”, he added.

The two-day summit will see delegates from Bangladesh, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Oman and other countries, said Dr Yadu Narayanan Mooss, Executive Director Vaidyaratnam Group. Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga will deliver the keynote address during the inaugural session. The former Kenyan Prime Minister has become a votary of ayurveda following his daughter gaining her eyesight after undergoing ayurvedic treatment in a Kerala hospital.

Dr Yadu Narayanan Mooss
Speakers also highlighted the potential of Kerala emerging as a hub of medical treatments with its highly qualified medical professionals, top rated infrastructure and competitive treatment costs. The treatment cost in Kerala is nearly 50 percent less compared with metro cities in the country, they added.

The lack of air connectivity is a major drawback facing the state, they said. “Nearly 30 percent of medical value tourists arriving in India belongs to Bangladesh. But there is no direct flight between Kerala and Bangladesh”, said Dr Ranjith Krishnan, Member, CII Kerala Healthcare panel and Chief Executive Officer Kinder Group of Hospitals. Stating that ayurveda and modern medicine can collaborate to give the best of treatment he said patients from abroad are opting Kerala hospitals for high-end treatments such as neuro surgeries, hip and knee replacements.

According to Dr Yadu the state and the central governments should initiate steps to provide air connectivity between Kerala and Bangladesh on a priority basis so that Kerala would be in a position to attract many MVT travellers from Bangladesh. 

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