Does government support for medical tourism pay off?


Throughout the globe, many governments see inbound well being and medical tourism as offering a lift to their nation’s financial system. So how do they help the efforts of native healthcare suppliers and does that funding repay? IMTJ Editor in Chief, Keith Pollard, appears to be like at some main examples.

In an IMTJ article earlier this year, we featured the efforts of the Indian authorities to supply a lift to the financial system by supporting the actions of contributors within the nation’s medical tourism sector. So, how do India and different locations help medical tourism and does that basically ship a return on funding?


India attracts sufferers, principally from poorer nations that lack healthcare services and to whom the low remedy prices in India are engaging. The federal government gives a medical tourism visa programme; round 500,000 are issued every year. Bangladesh, Iraq, Maldives, Afghanistan, Oman, Yemen, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania account for about 88% of the whole worldwide sufferers visiting India. Bangladesh alone accounts for 54% of the whole medical vacationers. Nonetheless, as some visas will cowl sufferers’ companions, the precise variety of travelling sufferers might be across the 250,000 to 350,000 mark. Additionally, keep in mind that not each medical vacationer to India bothers with a medical tourism visa. Based on Indian Tourism Statistics launched by the Ministry of Tourism, 6.7% of India’s whole vacationer footfall in 2020 was for medical functions.

In 2022, India’s tourism ministry launched an built-in communication technique to help medical tourism, “Heal in India”. The plans embrace:

  • Enhancing the medical infrastructures of 17 cities.
  • Easing medical visa norms and different necessities for sufferers and their companions from 44 international locations, primarily, African, Latin American and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) international locations and members of the South Asian Affiliation for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • Formation of the Medical Value Travel Council of India, co-chaired by the well being and tourism ministries.
  • Choice of 37 hospitals together with 30 within the non-public sector throughout 17 cities in 12 states which have been recognized for selling medical worth journey.
  • Provision of one-stop centres at applicable airports for queries associated to medical journey, transport, boarding and lodging.
  • Growth of a web based portal as a one-stop store for providers supplied by medical journey facilitators and hospitals with an interface for international sufferers, displaying standardised remedy bundle costs and offering a grievance part, in addition to an choice to submit affected person suggestions and testimonials.

India’s nationwide efforts to help its home healthcare services appear spectacular. Nonetheless, no price for the funding has been made public, and it stays to be seen whether or not these plans will repay on the medium to long run.


Wanting on the plans for “Heal in India” you would possibly assume that they’ve been taken out of the Malaysia medical tourism playbook.

The Malaysian authorities has for a few years supported medical tourism as a income earner for the financial system, and is often seen because the shining gentle on this sector, definitely in South East Asia. Medical tourism is included as one of many nation’s 12 Nationwide Key Financial Areas (NKEA). The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), established in 2011, has carried out varied initiatives to make Malaysia a vacation spot of selection for medical vacationers. The federal government works in collaboration with the non-public sector, particularly non-public hospitals, and authorities companies each domestically and abroad within the implementation of its advertising and marketing plans. Its stand-out achievement is presumably the supply of an end-to-end affected person expertise, supported by native hubs in focused supply markets, name centres, concierge and airport lounge providers, rehabilitation and submit remedy help.

MHTC is properly funded, properly staffed and, below robust management, has a clearly outlined technique for development. In its most up-to-date medical tourism statistics, it reported medical tourism revenues of US$373 million. In its Malaysia Healthcare Travel Industry Blueprint 2021 – 2025, MHTC maps out the methods and framework for healthcare journey trade stakeholders. To evaluate return on funding, Malaysia measures the throughput and worth of medical vacationers in a extra structured method than most likely another medical tourism vacation spot.


It’s reported that the Turkish authorities has invested greater than US$30,000 million in selling medical tourism to Turkey over the past ten years. Based on official TURKSTAT knowledge, 662,000 medical vacationers went to Turkey in 2019 producing income of US$1.65 billion. Within the pandemic affected 2020, the quantity fell to 388,000 with income of US$549 million. In 2021, 642,000 medical vacationers introduced in US$1.49 billion. Within the first quarter of 2022 there have been 285,000 medical vacationers producing income of US$332 million. The nation hopes to see medical tourism generate revenues of US$ 3 billion as numbers rise.

Visa procedures for international sufferers who go to Turkey for remedy, are facilitated by the Well being Tourism Council, the Affiliation of Personal Hospitals and the Affiliation of Personal Universities. The federal government has invested closely in supporting medical tourism promotion, subsidising companies and suppliers advertising and marketing and promotional actions and paying 50% to 70% of the price of attending festivals and exhibitions abroad.

Nonetheless, the place Turkey has did not nice tune its medical tourism act, is in regulating and controlling these healthcare suppliers and medical tourism companies who’re lively within the sector.  The Turkish authorities introduced within the Regulation on Worldwide Well being Tourism and Vacationer Well being in 2017, setting out minimal service supply requirements for medical tourism and guidelines on the authorisation and supervision of healthcare organisations and intermediaries in medical tourism. Regardless of these efforts, the nation continues to draw damaging publicity by the failings of a few of its suppliers. Media experiences of sad sufferers seem in supply international locations. Most just lately, the British Weight problems and Metabolic Surgical procedure Society (BOMSS) condemned cheap weight loss surgery in Tűrkiye, stating that 20 UK residents have died throughout medical tourism journeys to Turkey since January 2019.

Let the healthcare suppliers do their very own factor?

In distinction to the three examples above, it’s price mentioning three main locations, the place the federal government performs little or no function in supporting the efforts of their healthcare services to draw worldwide affected person – the USA, UK and Germany. In these three international locations, the healthcare suppliers are left to do their factor and are very profitable at it. Suppliers in all three international locations concentrate on the excessive finish, complicated remedy niches of medical tourism the place numbers could also be small however income per affected person could be very excessive. And for the person healthcare suppliers concerned within the enterprise, you possibly can make certain that they’re measuring their return on funding.

What occurs elsewhere?

Should you’d prefer to know the way governments in different international locations are supporting medical tourism, invest in an IMTJ subscription and also you’ll get entry to the IMTJ Country Profiles wherein we summarise authorities involvement within the native medical tourism market.


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