More than 2 lakh Bangladeshi tourists came to India in 2017 followed by 55,681 from Afghanistan and 47,640 from Iraq, says tourism minister.
New Delhi: Close to five lakh foreign tourists came to India in 2017 for medical purposes, with Bangladesh alone contributing to almost half the foreigners, union tourism minister K.J. Alphons has said in the Lok Sabha.
The number of tourists visiting India for medical tourism has seen a sharp increase in the past three years — the figure stood at 2,33,918 in 2015 but rose to 4.27 lakh in 2016 and 4.95 lakh last year, he said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha Monday.
The minister also provided a list of tourists coming from different countries. While Bangladesh topped the list with 2,21,751 tourists, Afghanistan came second with 55,681 in 2017 and 61,231 in 2016. With 47,640 people, Iraq stood third.
There has been a steep decrease in the arrival of Pakistani tourists in the past two years. In 2016, 3,955 Pakistani nationals visited India for medical treatment, which came down to 1,785 in 2017 — a more than 50 per cent drop.
According to the data shared by the tourism minister, the two countries that saw a heavy increase in their nationals visiting India for medical purposes are Maldives and Kuwait. The island nation sent 10,000 people in 2016 that rose to more than 45,000 last year.
Kuwait sent more than 1,000 of its citizens to India in 2017 for medical purposes compared to 265 in 2016.
Alphons was replying to a question raised by MP from Alathur, Kerala, P.K. Biju, who also sought to know how much foreign exchange has been earned by India from such medical visits.
Citing the lack of separate forex figure in this category, the minister quoted the provisional estimates of total forex earning through tourism in 2017, which was Rs 1,77,874 crore.