Can Kashmir become another medical tourism hub of India?

IOK - Indian Occupied Kashmir Jammu & Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Major hospital chains are expanding footprints to Kashmir.

Experts say Kashmir can be an ideal medical tourism destination given its topography and climatic advantage.

“Jammu and Kashmir has a huge potential in medical tourism apart from leisure tourism. So many hospital chains are coming to Kashmir. Our climate suits people coming from Europe and North America and even Gulf. If we cash in on this niche sector, we can attract large footfalls,” said Professor Nissar Ali, a top economist who retired as Head, Department of Economics at the University of Kashmir.

In 2019, the State Administrative Council (SAC) approved the ‘Policy document’ to set up Med-cities in Jammu and Kashmir. Official sources said more than 10,000 jobs are likely to be created within these two Medi-cities.

Last year, Jammu and Kashmir government shortlisted eight firms to set up hospitals and medical colleges in the newly established Medi-City at Sempora, Kashmir. Five hospitals, two medical colleges, and one nursing training institute cum hospital will be set up in the first phase.

An official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that Milli Trust, Peaks, Vitasta Hospitals, Trumbo Infrastructure, Areesha Royal Hospital, Universal Healthcare Hospital, DVS Worldwide Service, and Radiant Medicity Pvt Ltd have been selected to set up their units.

India ranks at number 10 among the best 46 medical destinations globally. Medical tourism is believed to be a $9 billion market today and is expected to climb to $13 billion by 2026.. Healthcare has been steadily increasing from 1.6% of GDP in FY 2021 to 2.1% in FY 2023, it is still amongst the lowest in the world.

Jammu and Kashmir saw 14.64 percent economic growth with 1.88 crore tourist footfall in 2021-22. Tourism accounts for 6 to 7 percent of J&K’s GDP. In 2021, the travel and tourism sector contributed around 5.8 percent to the total GDP of the country.

“Medical tourism should be our focus area. As we plead more and more, large investments will come into this sector. We can combine pleasure tourism with medical tourism. And it will be a boon,” said Prof Ali.__The Kashmir Monitor