Kochi, June 29 With monsoons in full spate and Karakata (mid-July to mid-August) season considered to be the most propitious for Ayurveda upon us, Kerala’s centuries-old traditional healing sector is gearing up to grab a bigger pie of medical tourism this year, riding on twin factors. One, the recent announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Ayush visas, and second, the uncertainties plaguing Sri Lanka, a big competitor when it comes to Ayurveda.
Vignesh Devaraj, CEO of Sitaram Beach Retreat, told BusinessLine that German travel insurance firms have issued warnings against availing treatments in Sri Lanka due to the crisis in the nation. He said the Centre’s move for Ayush visas could also be a revenue booster to cash-starved Kerala, considering the increased stay of tourists for health packages ranging from 14 to 21 days.
He added that the decision of insurance companies in Switzerland to provide reimbursement for Ayurveda treatments will be a further fillip.
According to Sajikumar S, Managing Director, Dhathri Ayurveda, the unrest in Sri Lanka will be an added advantage for Kerala Ayurveda hospitals with a likely shift of medical tourists. He said around 1.9 million tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2019 helping the island nation earn nearly $4.4 billion, out of which around 25 per cent was from Ayurvedic wellness tourism. The political crisis in the neighbouring country could be an advantage to Kerala hospitals.
He said Kerala used to get around 12 lakh international tourist arrivals per year and of this, 30 per cent visit for medical tourism. However, the pandemic had reduced the footfalls to a trickle, but the Ayurveda business has now started reviving.
Tourism marketing: A new pitch from God’s Own CountryKerala’s tourism revival package has new products and a unique positioning with an eye on the post-pandemic domestic traveller
Sajikumar, who is the past chairman of CII Kerala, said that 30 per cent of the ₹45,000-crore tourism revenue in the State is from Ayurveda treatment and Ayush visas will give authenticity to such treatments. The Prime Minister’s recent announcement about ‘Heal in India’‘ campaign will also help India’s medical tourism sector.
D Ramanathan, General Secretary of Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organization of India (AMMOI), said that there was still confusion among overseas medical tourists on whether they could avail of visa-on-arrival for Ayurveda treatment. However, the Prime Minister’s recent announcement is expected to reduce technical doubts about visa allotments.
The need of the hour, he said, is to provide Ayurveda treatments in a systematic way, which would help Kerala emerge as a health hub across the global markets.
“We have submitted a memorandum to the Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal seeking solutions related to exports of Ayurveda products. This includes raw material shortage, rising freight charges, container availability, diplomatic intervention to get acceptance and recognition of Ayurveda, steps to market Ayurveda products for therapeutic use as the export market is confined to personal care and wellness products.” he said