The government of India is promoting medical tourism in a big way. It also has a full-fledged Medical Tourism policy. Has any such policy been formulated in Madhya Pradesh?
No, we have not. What is the need? There is no scope for such a thing in MP. Indore has world-class medical facilities and highly qualified doctors, though mainly in the private sector.
It is already a regional referral centre. Don’t you think Indore can attract some of the medical tourism traffic in the country?
If those doctors and hospitals think they can do it, let them go for their own marketing. We would think of formulating a policy only when we see any government hospital having international standard.
But private doctors say the state’s economy will benefit with the promotion of medical tourism. Therefore the government should help?
Let private hospitals come up with a proposal, and we will help them whatever way we could. But roads are in a bad shape, there is no international airport and tourist places around Indore do not have adequate facilities. It is for the government to help arrange these things?
What is your definition of medical tourism? In my opinion, this is called so only because a patient travels from one country to other for availing medical services. It has got nothing to do with the conventional tourism. Those who would come here for surgery or any other treatment are not going to move around like conventional tourists.
Even going by your definition, how can you help develop medical tourism. Maharashtra has already formed a ‘Medical Tourism Council’.
Maharashtra has got Mumbai and that is a big advantage. The place is well connected at international level; it has got highly qualified doctors and world-class equipment. What is there at Indore?
There are four big hospitals and a number of medium size hospitals. They claim to have doctors on par with those in metros and state-of-the-art equipment.
If they claim so, where are the international patients? Why are they not coming? I cannot discuss hypothetical situations.
‘MPTDC can only be facilitator, the onus is on hospitals’
Excerpts of an interview with Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) Managing Director Ashwini Lohani:
Is there any scope for medical tourism in the State?
Yes, but only in Indore. The city has got the necessary infrastructure, including big hospitals like Bombay Hospital, to attract medical tourists.
Do you have any policy to promote medical tourism?
No, we don’t have any policy specifically for medical tourism. We believe that tourism happens on its own. The MPTDC can only facilitate the stay of tourists, but the initiative will have to come from hospitals and private travel agents who can attract the tourists with proper marketing.
Don’t you think MPTDC can make Indore attractive for tourists by selling them combo packages like a trip to Omkareshwar or Ujjain?
Definitely. We are already marketing packages for general tourists. If you see Indore as a hub, there are a number of attractive places just a short drive away. MPTDC provides connectivity to major tourist destinations like Mandu and Omkareshwar.
Some of the states like Kerala are attracting tourists by selling “holistic healing” packages, such as ayurvedic bath and massages. Do you have any such plans to attract medical tourists?
No, we don’t have any such plans. As I said, MPTDC can only be a facilitator, but the onus is on the hospitals to attract medical tourists.