Thomas Cook (India) Ltd is tying up with major Indian hospitals to launch its medical tourism initiative in the country this year, a senior official said here on Tuesday.

About 10,000 patients, mainly NRIs, visit India each year for medical treatment as facilities are relatively cheaper in the country. “We are trying to tap this potential in places such as Gujarat, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore,” Mr Madhav Pai, Chief Operating Officer (Leisure Travel Outbound), told Business Line.

The tours and travels major has already tied up with Seven Hills Hospital in Mumbai and is in talks with the Apollo and Hinduja Hospitals, he said, adding it could explore tie-ups with other hospitals as well.

By the end of 2012-13, the company would launch medical tourism related packages.

Thomas Cook (India) is also organising games and sports-specific packages for tourists visiting London for the Olympic Games to be held from July 27 to August 12. These packages range from Rs 35,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh per passenger, excluding airfare. About 4,000 Indians are expected to attend the Games, including 1,000 who have booked on Thomas Cook, he said.

The outbound tourism potential in India is worth about Rs 45,000 crore to Rs 50,000 crore annually with nearly 1.20 crore Indians travelling overseas destinations each year. About 6 crore foreigners visit India annually, he said. Thomas Cook has seen a 35 per cent growth in turnover in 2011-12.

In domestic tourism, however, he said the sector could fare poor this year due to the deteriorating economic situation, including drought-like conditions, inflation and increased airfare.

Ms Smeeta Gulvady, Vice-President & Head, Centre of Learning, said Thomas Cook, which launched its sixth Centre of Learning at Ahmedabad, plans to have 10 such centres across India this year. The centres will organise three-month to two-year courses for students interested in making a career in tours and travels. Its two-year tour residential course, conducted at Gwalior in tie-up with the Tourism Ministry’s Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), is recognised by the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The tourism sector has an attrition rate of nearly 40 per cent per annum and about 5,000 vacancies arise in the sector each year. Thomas Cook has employed nearly 200 students trained by its centres. The company is also expanding its centres of learning to Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

(This article was published on July 24, 2012)
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