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NEW DELHI : India holds high hopes that its medical tourism industry will revive faster than that of other countries, although this may not be anytime soon.

“Indian medical tourism industry is likely to revive faster than even some developed nations in Europe, as well as USA, on account of comparatively better handling of the situation by India as compared to these nations," said Piyush Tiwari, director (commercial and marketing), India Tourism Development Corp. (ITDC), under the tourism ministry.

Medical tourists will probably be much more aware of where they go and how ‘medically safe’ the country seems to be to them, and medical travel destinations, like India, that have had a lower number of covid-19 cases and fewer deaths relating to the virus, are likely to have a faster recovery," he told Mint.

According to the ministry, medical tourism in India was valued at around $3 billion in 2015, and it was expected to grow to $9 billion in 2020 before covid-19 struck.

According to Tiwari, the influx of tourists, including medical tourists, is expected to remain subdued at least for a good part of 2020.

“Hospitality, travel and tourism sector is the worst hit (by pandemic) in terms of severity, as well as longer recovery period, which will also have an impact on medical tourism to a large extent," said Tiwari.

“While a patient needing treatment cannot wait, medical tourism will be affected mostly on account of travel restrictions, as well as likely increase in airfares," he added.

“As soon as the international air travel restrictions are lifted; Medical value travelers, after following due protocols including RT-PCR testing, will flock to India simply for its value proposition of outstanding value for money and excellent clinical outcomes," said Dr Harish Pillai, chair-Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci)- medical value travel committee.

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