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ITC-Welcom hotels plans foray into medical tourism

ITC-Welcom Group Hotel, Palaces and Resorts is testing waters for the medical tourism needs of India. Through its subsidiary, Fortune Park Hotels Ltd, the group would come up with its first property for the specialised tourism in Thane, near Mumbai, by August. With the property, the group looks at tapping business potential emerging from the requirement for safe and growing accommodation of patients coming to the country for treatment of various ailments and surgeries. Mr Pawan Verma, utive Vice-President-Operations of ITC Ltd-Hotel Division, said, “The hotel is under management-contract and is modeled to suit the growing demand for medical tourism in the country. The 55-60-rooms property is adjacent to Jupiter hospital, run by Dr Ajay Thakkar.” The 200-beds hospital is located on Thane highway. The hotel would be internally accessible from the hospital would also be providing wheel-in facility for the patients, Mr Verma added. It would also address the accommodation needs of patients as well as their visiting relatives. According to healthcare industry estimates, the country’s medical tourism opportunity is projected at US$2 billion by 2012. Currently, Apollo Sindoori Hotels Ltd, a group company of Apollo Hospitals, is outsourcing its services to meet demands of healthcare industry and in a way addressing medical tourists’ needs. Hospital majors such as Wockhardt, Apollo and others are known to have interest in the area. But lack of ancillary support in terms of good hotels and after treatment care of patients still remains an issue, says industry experts. Mr Abinash Manghani, Sales and Marketing Head of Fortune Park Hotels Ltd, told Business Line, “This is our first project in medical tourism field, which is still at a very nascent stage in India. A hotel and hospital combination is rare; we are open to the idea of more such ventures but want to see how medical tourism takes off in the country.”

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