Hospitals in Goa, engaged in medical travel, expect a drastic decrease in foreign arrivals in the approaching tourist season. Industry players blame this on the global economic meltdown and an image problem.
Victor Albuquerque of the Apollo Victor Hospital in Margao said: “We expect a 50 percent decline among overseas tourists, who come for dental, cosmetic or bariatric treatment.” Instead of the 200 overseas bookings, which materialised last year, only 20 now appear to be firm, he said.
Dr Digambar Naik of Vrundavan Hospital & Research Centre in Mapusa said they had been anticipating a 25 to 50 percent rise in outside business, which doesn’t look likely to happen. “We just hope there’s no decline in walk-in patients.”
Alarmed by developments, hospital administrators said they were planning new promotional schemes to stimulate activity.
Goa, a former Portuguese colony in south India, has largely built its economy based on a four-month tourist season. Lately, however, adverse publicity of high-profile incidents involving foreigners, environmental pollution and spikes in airfare has affected the market’s perception of what has long been touted in all the guidebooks as “paradise”.