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The Resurgence of Health and Wellness Tourism in India India's shift from being just a cultural destination to a Yoga nucleus has been remarkable

By Vijay Kumar Karai

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With rising demand for traditional healthcare practices and a growing emphasis on preventive health care methods, medical and wellness tourism is gaining immense popularity and attention among people.

Fostering ancient practices of Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha and Naturopathy, India has established itself as an important wellness retreat among domestic and international tourists. An increase in awareness levels on alternative medicine is inspiring tourists to embark on wellness trips or engage in wellness activities.

Wellness Tourism

Wellness Tourism is a sense of belongingness to an environment that is austere, free from stress, encourages positivity in attitude, focuses on balanced nutrition, restores balance and homeostasis of the body, and holistically heals the body. As more people embrace healthier lifestyles, there has been a transition to integrate wellness into travel and vacation habits. Today, the wellness tourism market includes primary and secondary wellness tourists. While the primary wellness traveller's sole purpose of the trip and destination choice is wellness, a secondary wellness traveller participates in wellness experience like rejuvenation and de-stress, during their trip.

Opportunity in the segment

Wellness tourism can give a tourist ample opportunities for introspection and at the same time rejuvenate the body, mind and soul by detoxification provided by various healthcare therapies. India is perceived worldwide, as one of the true spiritual homes of the modern wellness movement and has a powerful and unique "wellness halo' with its ancient practices of Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, naturopathy, panchakarma and holistic health are among the experiences sought by wellness travellers in India.

India has been ranked among the top five destinations for wellness services, along with China, Brazil, US, and Indonesia, according to a KMPG report on the tourism industry. A FICCI report highlights that the wellness industry in India is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 12 per cent for the next five years. Advancements in technology, state of the art facilities and well-trained professionals attract those seeking treatments to the country.

The Government Initiatives

The Ministry of Tourism has been proactively advocating the idea of medical tourism. A National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board has been constituted to provide a dedicated institutional framework to take forward the cause of promotion of Medical and Wellness Tourism covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH). With the wheels of this concept churning rapidly, the government estimates it to reach a US $9 billion marks by 2020, making India the fastest growing medical tourism destinations in Asia.

Streamlined Process

With increasing volumes of travellers opting for wellness travel, the need of the hour is to provide an easy, transparent and organized way to travel and experience wellness therapies in India. Better classification and a more effective rating-system for wellness centres are crucial. The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Health Care Providers (NABH) is a board of Quality Council of India, set up to establish and provide accreditation for Ayurvedic hospitals, wellness centres and Yoga centres.

Benefits

A major benefit of accreditation has come from health insurance companies, who now provide up to 25per cent insurance coverage for various treatments from NABH-accredited hospitals or healing centres. This has been a game-changer for the industry, one that is sure to reaffirming India's status as a world-class wellness destination. India's shift from being just a cultural destination to a Yoga nucleus has been remarkable.

Vijay Kumar Karai

CEO and Founder AyurUniverse

AyurUniverse was founded by Vijay Kumar Karai. Vijay brings over 18 years of corporate experience in Sales, Marketing and Operations working for brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi and 4 years as CEO of various start-ups. It was during his time as CEO and co-investor of an Ayurvedic spa in Mysore, India, that he realized the potential for an online wellness portal.

Vijay holds an MBA from University of Southern California, USA and Bachelor of Science from Hyderabad, India. He is a proud husband and father of two boys and quite naturally an avid wellness enthusiast. A keen reader, scuba diver and amateur squash player, he also helps his sons run an NGO "Thread India" that helps and motivates underprivileged children to follow their dream career.

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