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How medical tourism can boost India’s eco-tourism potential?

A rapidly developing healthcare infrastructure and having a globally-acclaimed community of medical professionals has turned India into a popular destination for medical tourism. Citizens from various countries like Russia, Canada, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan often visit India for medical treatments. In addition, affordable medical procedures and services have been luring more medical tourists to India. Another reason why people prefer India to get a medical procedure done is because of how relatively easier it is to get it done. Many of these tourists want to bypass the long wait and red tape that usually accompanies these procedures.

As medical tourism brings more international citizens to India, the trend has also helped the country tap into its ecotourism potential. Burgeoning medical tourism in India put a number of lesser-known eco-tourism destinations on the international tourism map.

Living Root Bridge, Mawlynnong
Living Root Bridge, Mawlynnong

Medical tourism refers to the practice of traveling to a nation other than your country of residence to avail of a medical service or get a medical procedure done. The practice has helped policymakers not only strengthen its healthcare infrastructure but also boost a country’s tourism potential. According to a report, India’s medical tourism industry is expected to grow by around 200% to reach US$9 billion by 2020. The size of the industry was over US$3 billion back then and India was the third most popular medical tourism destination in the world.

India is home to several eco-friendly locations and they have only boosted its appeal as a medical tourism destination. The primary reason behind this trend is that tourists who are recovering from a medical procedure are often in search of a peaceful vacation. For such people, the natural beauty of an ecotourism spot is a huge draw. The clean air and eco-friendly services offer a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of big cities. 

If you are looking for eco-friendly tourism destinations in India, here are a few options:

  1. Thenmala in Kerala: This was the first planned ecotourism destination in India. The location is divided into three zones – adventure zone, culture zone, and rock-climbing zone.
  2. Matheran in Maharashtra: The hill station has been declared as an ecologically sensitive zone by the Union government. Charlotte’s Lake and Prabal Fort draw many medical tourists to this place.
  3. Kumbalangi in Kerala: The Kumbalangi tourism village project is one of the best ways to discover the cultural heritage of Kerala. It is a small fish hamlet located 15 kilometers away from Kochi.
  4. Coorg in Karnataka: This another hill station that draws tourists from across the world. Coorg’s greenery, rapid rivers, and waterfalls are a great treat for eco-tourists. You can also plan a trip to the coffee and cardamom plantations in the town to know more about its culture.
  5. Mawlynnong in Meghalaya: The village has earned the tag of an ecofriendly clean village due to the initiatives taken by its citizens. It is located near Shillong and one can spot bamboo dustbins across the village to ensure that the surroundings stay clean. You can also visit the living root bridge in Mawlynnong.
  6. Lahaul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh: The hill station has extreme temperatures and hilly terrain. There are several organizations in the city that are helping sustainably develop Lahaul Spiti’s tourism potential. 
  7. Khonoma in Nagaland: This village is situated about 20 kilometers from Kohima. It is managed by the village’s indigenous tribe Angami’s for the past several years. The locals have done a fine job in the management of natural resources while preserving the village’s biodiversity and wildlife. 
  8. Sitlakhet in Uttarakhand: This is another hill station whose scenic beauty has turned it into a premier ecotourism spot. Nestled between the Kumaon Himalayas, there are several activities like biking, mountaineering, and nature walks which visitors can enjoy. It is located in the Almora district of the state and is an offbeat ecotourism destination with several attractions.
  9. Pragpur in Himachal Pradesh: Pragpur is India’s first heritage village. Named after a princess of the royal Jaswan family, Pragpur has declared a heritage village in December 2007. The village has preserved ancient houses and structures to offer tourists a peek into its rich past. 
  10. Melghat Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra: Sprawling across 3.600 square kilometers, Melghat Tiger Reserve is located in the Amravati district of Maharashtra. It includes the Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gugamal National Park. The deciduous forests add to the ecotourism potential of the reserve. You can also other activities like enjoy nature walks, fishing, and birdwatching at the reserve. 

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will change the way people travel. As Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the globe, there are many who are still scared to step out of their homes. However, there are some who are willing to travel while following safety guidelines recommended by the government. People should wear masks, maintain social distancing, and sanitize their hands regularly while traveling as a precautionary measure against novel coronavirus. Moreover, rather than opting for group tours, try taking solo trips or private tours to avoid crowding.

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