MVT Market: An Analysis

Around 50% of patients receiving treatment in Chennai arrive from outside of the state of Tamil Nadu

Medical tourism

Medical tourism is a growing sector in India. In October 2015, India's medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth US$3 billion. It is projected to grow to $7–8 billion by 2020. The primary reason that attracts medical value travel to India is cost-effectiveness, and treatment from accredited facilities at par with developed countries at much lower cost. India with the lowest cost and highest quality of all medical tourism destinations offers wide variety of procedures at about one-tenth the cost of similar procedures in the US.

• Bangladeshis and Afghans accounted for 34% of foreign patients, the maximum share, primarily due to their close proximity with India and poor healthcare infrastructure.
• Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) accounted for 30% share of foreign medical tourist arrivals.
• Other major sources of patients include Africa and the Middle East, particularly the Persian Gulf countries. In 2016, India became the top destination for Russians seeking medical treatment Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and the National Capital Region received the highest number of foreign patients primarily from South Eastern countries, with Chennai having come to be known as ‘India's health capital'.
Traditional sources has been geographies like SAARC (Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Pakistan) countries, Middle East (Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq), CIS (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine) and Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Congo). Also these travelers come for specific treatments in India.
• Some of the popular treatments are orthopedics (knee and hip replacements), cardiac (angioplasty and CABG) spine surgeries, oncology treatment, urology procedures, gastro procedures, transplants and cosmetic surgeries including bariatric and metabolic surgeries.


Medical tourism is so pervasive in the city that approximately half of all patients receiving treatment in Chennai will arrive from outside of the state of Tamil Nadu. The country of origin of Chennai’s medical visitors has been reported by some as predominantly coming from Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, Congo, Bangladesh, Oman, and Iraq and others. Chennai has been able to draw more medical tourists than Bengaluru, due to its increased flight connectivity with the US, the Middle East and other countries. Several hospitals in the city has also signed several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, meaning that their citizens will automatically be sent to Chennai for Government-sponsored medical tourism.


The Ministries of Health, External Affairs, Tourism and Culture are working to increase the number of medical tourists. The Government provides online visas, multiple entries, extensions of stay, and accreditation to more hospitals. The number of medical visas issued by India rose 45% in 2016 from the year before, an indication that India is rapidly becoming a hub of medical treatment for foreigners. Patients from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Middle East and African countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, constitute a major chunk of the medical tourists in India.

India issued more than 1.78 lakh medical visas in 2016, including for follow up treatment, as against 1.22 lakh in 2015, according to the data. Earlier this year, e-Visa has further been sub-divided into three categories i.e. e-tourist visa, e-Business visa and e-Medical visa.

The scope of e-tourist visa has been expanded to include short-term medical treatment. Separate immigration counters and facilitation desks have also been planned at major Indian airports to boost the medical travel industry. Separate immigration counters and facilitation desks to assist medical tourist have been provided at Indian airports namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.


Chennai attracts 40% of all medical tourists in India, with a minimum of 200 international patients each day


Mumbai receives patients mainly from West Asia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, as it offers affordable health care. Maharashtra receives at least 2 lakh medical tourists in a year, a number expected to rise to 5 lakh over the next two years. Mainly West Asia, mainly Iraq, Oman and Yemen, visit Mumbai for cancer and pediatric congenital heart diseases.


Delhi multi-specialty hospitals provide medical treatment for a wide range of simple and complex medical problems. Cardiac, Orthopedics, Neurology, Oncology, Organ Transplant, Eye Surgery and Tumour treatment are some of the popular medical treatments undertaken by the patients visiting Delhi-NCR hospitals. Patients are also found to be coming Delhi for spine treatmenthip surgery, bone marrow transplant, ENT, hernia, gastroenterology,  diabetes and hypertension.

Most of them have come to India on the advice of their family and friends or doctors and hospital doctor and hospital referrals. Mainly the patients are found to be coming from Middle East, African and South Asian countries that self finance their treatments. Max, Fortis, Medanta, Apollo, Nova and Moolchand are renowned for their well-known doctors, customised services, highly advanced equipments technologies and procedures and other world class facilities which have made them popular brand names across the globe.

MEDICAL TOURISM MARKET IN KOLKATA Kolkata has emerged as a favourite destination for medical tourism, owing to the world class facilities provided to the foreign patients at an extremely affordable price. Major folk of patients are coming to Kolkata from the neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal , Bhutan and Myanmar. Lack of quality healthcare in Bangladesh, geographical proximity to West Bengal and a common culture have made Kolkata a hub for medical tourists.


Competitive pricing, air connectivity and quality healthcare are turning Hyderabad into a major hub for medical tourism in the country. On an average, every month about 1,000 foreign nationals visit the city on medical tourism. Hyderabad is fast emerging as one of the preferred medical travel destinations in India for people travelling from the Middle East, Africa and SAARC. People from African countries such as Tanzania, Somalia, Nigeria, Middle East, CIS and South East Asia come to Hyderabad for complex heart surgeries, joint replacements, brain and spine surgery using robots, bone marrow transplants, cancer treatment, bariatric surgery, dental procedures, heart and lung transplant, gynaecology surgeries, colorectal surgeries, gastroenterology procedures, IVF, cochlear implant surgery and preventive health checks.

Medical tourism in India is booming. Various kinds of medical facilities are available to inbound patients easily and economically. However, a few challenges faced by the patients need to be addressed. Keeping in mind the importance of medical tourism, the Government has taken various initiatives, though; a lot is still to be done. The vast potential in the field of medical tourism is still to be tapped.


• 18.1% growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA) in October, 2017 over October, 2016, 67.3% growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals on E-tourist Visa in October, 2017 over October, 2016
• The number of FTAs in October, 2017 was 8.76 lakh as compared to FTAs of 7.42 lakh in October, 2016 and 6.83 lakh in October, 2015.
• The growth rate in FTAs in October, 2017 over October,2016 has increased to 18.1%, compared to 8.6% in October, 2016 over October, 2015.
• FTAs during the period January- October 2017 were 79.96 lakh with a growth of 15.8% over same period of the previous year, compared to FTAs of 69.05 lakh with a growth of 9.6% in January- October, 2016 over January- October, 2015.
• The percentage share of FTA in India during October, 2017 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (21.66%) followed by USA (11.57%),UK (10.23%), Sri Lanka (3.79%), Canada (3.36%), Germany (3.17%), Australia (3.07%), France (2.81%), Russian Fed. (2.81%), Malaysia (2.76%), Japan (2.44%), Thailand (2.10%), China (1.93%), Nepal (1.66%) and Rep of Korea (1.48%).