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Myanmar: Abolition of visa fees increases the outlook for health care tourists
India's recent move to abolish the $80 visa fee for Myanmar citizens (except for the e-visa) has enhanced the outlook for health care tourists in India. West-Bengal may be a big winner, as Kolkata has the best air connection to Myanmar of all the big Indian towns. In Myanmar, India is controlling the growing pharmaceuticals industry.
Indians, especially Bengalese, were an important ministry in Myanmar (then Burma) until the land became self-sufficient in 1948. Accordingly, Myanmar's Indian educational and health system continues to be held in high regard. But hardly one percent of the 3 lovers of medicine come from India, mainly because of the high cost of peripherals and restricted accessibility.
Until a few month ago, the twice-weekly flight of AAI between Calcutta and Yangon was the only connecting flight between the two nations, and the mean return flight costs were $450-500. Myanmar Airways lessened the impact of the launch of the twice-weekly Kolkata-Yangon flight through Myanmar Airways ltd (MAI), as the costs of the return flight have fallen to around 300 US dollars.
However, there are not many connections to other Indian towns. There are 150 weekly roundtrip airfares between Myanmar and Thailand worth $100. Of course, most people from Myanmar travel to Bangkok for medical care. Ravindra Jain, CEO of Yangon-based 4R Consultancy, says the decrease in ancillary costs will significantly improve India's competitive position as India provides better health care than Thailand at a lower cost.
Now Jain says a heart operation costing $1,500 in Thailand is available at half the cost in India. He expects a significant increase in traffic with India as a result of the lower airfare and the abolition of visa fees. The Indian clinics are also preparing to seize the opportunities that present themselves.
Barua says AMRI has a long history of success in providing supercritical treatment in the fields of cardio, cancer and renal transplants to Myanmaris. Vikram Misri, Indian ambassador to Myanmar, wants Indian health care companies to join forces with aircraft and other services to provide all-inclusive patient care to Myanmar.
It will dispel the fear of concealed cost and help Indian suppliers to take full advantage of their chances in the Indian markets, Misri recently said to BusinessLine. He is also interested in the Mandalay connection in the centre of Myanmar with the next Indian health centre in Guwahati in Assam. Guwahati is less than 45 min flying from Mandalay, less than half the journey between Calcutta and Yangon, according to him.