Govt plans to put Maharashtra on medical tourism map

Date: 30 Mar 2016 | Leave a comment


New policy to support tie-ups with hotels and hospitals to service two lakh tourists

Maharashtra will set up a medical tourism promotion council to exploit the state’s potential in this sector under the government’s new tourism policy, which could involve tie-ups with hospitals and hotels.

“Over two lakh medical tourists come to Mumbai, but often a number of them arrive go to other states. ,” Valsa Nair Singh, Secretary, Tourism and Cultural Affairs told The Hindu .

Tourists come to India for cosmetic surgery, dentistry, fertility treatments, orthopaedic and cardiac-related ailments. According to Ms Singh, a large number come from the Middle East. “Our hospitals are world class and almost 80 per cent cheaper than those in the West. We have been trying for an e-visa for medical purposes. We have to work with the medical education department, and tie up with hospitals and hotels,” she added.

To aggressively market Maharashtra’s medical tourism facilities, the government is planning to visit the Arab Tourism Mart this year, and will also look to address insurance payment issues which arise in Middle-Eastern countries. There are also plans to promote the state as an adventure sports destination, Ms Singh said.

She added, “We have trekking routes all over the state, including a five-day trek from Terna Fort to Raigad Fort. We have paragliding facilities in Kamshet, and also offer white water rafting, rock climbing among other facilities. Presently, these are being offered as individual activities. Now, we will create a database and frame guidelines as safety is an important factor in adventure,” Ms Singh said.

The government will also focus on wayside amenities. Two key highways — the NH-17 which runs from Panvel to Goa, Karnataka and the Kerala coast via the Konkan region and State Highway 8 from Ajanta Caves to Aurangabad — have been selected by the tourism department for this. “We will create amenities like clean restaurants, ATMs, cloak rooms that travellers require. We could give land and private operators could develop these,” she said.

The new policy will also focus on developing wildlife tourism in and around Nagpur, which has been designated as special tourism district. “We have five six wildlife sanctuaries including Tadoba, Navegaon-Nagzira and Pench within two hours of each other. The Ranthambore tiger reserve has several five-star hotels near it, while Tadoba has the Bamboo Forest Safari Lodge. We have identified land near these sanctuaries where properties could be developed,” Ms Singh said.

The policy also supports 25 road shows outside Maharashtra, and 10 outside India. “We received great response when Maharashtra participated in the Delhi Haat last year. A lot of people took selfies with Chhatrapati Shivaji’s statue, but many did not seem to know him for the historical figure he is here. Puran poli was a big hit with Delhites, and the CM suggested a puran poli festival. We intend to promote our history, culture, and cuisine more aggressively outside Maharashtra and outside India,” Ms Singh said.

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