Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett says that Jamaica's natural resources and geographic location make the island well-positioned to be a leader in the health and wellness tourism industry. He, therefore, called for greater investment to be made in the industry to ensure sustainable growth.
"We can move to build out the health and wellness industry. People are travelling to reclaim their youth, and they are more health conscious than ever before in tourism. What COVID-19 has done is emphasise the need for health and wellness," said Minister Bartlett.
"Jamaica, because of its geographical location and its geophysical features, stands in a good position to capture much of that movement for health and wellness that is now globally evident." "We must therefore invest in it," he added.
The Minister made these remarks on November 24 during the opening of the 4th annual Jamaica Health and Wellness Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Industry trends have shown that many destinations throughout the world are becoming synonymous with health and healing, and this is even more so since the pandemic, with people travelling far and wide in search of health benefits, both real and promised.
This has led to the natural emergence of health and wellness tourism, whereby people will leave their home countries and travel to other destinations for reactive care, to restore their health, or for more proactive treatments to maintain their health. The Minister, therefore, urged business owners and bankers to look to the health and wellness industry for investments, as the demand for this niche industry has grown exponentially in the post-COVID era.
"I want to use this opportunity to appeal to our bankers and the capital market. But more so to our entrepreneurs, who should look at this option because now more than ever, the demand for health and wellness is at a premium in the world. Because the COVID pandemic harmed the market a little bit, with the market valued at 4.4 trillion dollars in 2019 and now on the rise to 2 trillion, let us stay right there and move with that curve with investments in health and wellness," said the Minister.
He also used the opportunity to announce that his ministry recently met with a team of investors to improve the offerings of two of the island’s natural mineral spas: Bath Fountain in St. Thomas and Milk River in Clarendon.
"We have two of the finest natural spas in the world: the bathing fountain and the milk river. Our enterprise team is working very hard on that. Last month we had a very important consultation with potential investors, and we are looking at divesting those two. We have good calls that are being made on it to transform those two into world-class products to drive more resources into Jamaica and greater revenue flows into the country," said Bartlett.
The Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference was organised by the Tourism Linkages Network, a department of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, over two days to strengthen linkages between the health and wellness sector and other productive sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture and manufacturing, while promoting and showcasing Jamaica’s unique health and wellness tourism offerings.
The Conference brings together leaders in the health and wellness tourism industry from Jamaica and around the world for one of the most important conferences on Jamaica’s tourism schedule.