(From left) Jennifer Griffiths, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism; Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett; president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Robbin Russell; and chairman of the Health and Wellness Linkages Network, Kyle Mais listen keenly to Pauline Mighty, director of Mighty Spice, during a visit to her stall at the fourth annual staging of the Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Thursday. (Photo: Philp Lemonte)
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chairman of the Health and Wellness Linkages Network Kyle Mais has made a plea for Jamaican business interests to make use of the opportunities to get a slice of the US$1-trillion global health and wellness market.
Jamaica, he said, “has such amazing resources to provide these experiences”.
“We can position ourselves to ensure that we are developing our products, our facilities, our therapists, our manufacturers, our growers, and and just being innovative in finding what new products or new services or experiences… things such as nature walks. There are some new trends like forest bathing and so on. Jamaica has such amazing resources to provide these experiences,” Mais told the Jamaica Observer after his remarks at the opening ceremony of the fourth staging of the Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference at Montego Bay Convention Centre on Thursday.
At the same time, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Robin Russell argued that with its natural resources Jamaica needs to capitalise on low-hanging fruits in the health and wellness tourism sector.
“There is a tremendous potential for us in the manufacture of products, using our indigenous plants, oils, soaps, body scrubs, fragrances, drugs.The world is embracing the natural, and we can deliver,” Russell opined.
He argued that the demand for health and wellness tourism is driven to some extent by high cost in the First World countries, and that persons in the USA, Canada, and Europe often look beyond their home country for high-quality, certified services in a healthy climate.
” Jamaica is that place,” Russell stated.
“A lot of work has been done to sensitise Jamaicans to the potential of the wellness market, not just for the tourists but for our own residents. We already have quite a number of Jamaican properties tapping into this niche, and loyal local customers who routinely patronise their spas, beauty salons, and other wellness facilities. The next step is to further establish our brand as a wellness destination, leveraging the natural resources, medical services, fitness programmes and resort amenities.”
One of the highlights of day one of the two-day conference was the Health and Wellness Linkages Network’s launch of a beaches, parks and trails guidebook.
“There is a comprehensive collection of all the different off the beaten path parks, you know. We have such beautiful gardens just because of our natural flora and fauna. We have some of the the most incredible trails up in the Cockpit Country, Blue Mountains, John Crow Mountains. Of course we’re known for our beaches but there are many off the beaten path, fishermen beaches for example, that we want to expose to our visitors, and not only visitors — this is our product. This is a guide for us Jamaicans as well because it’s important that we get outdoors,” the Health and Wellness Linkages Network chairman told the Observer.
“During COVID that was really the only exercise we could get, it is going for a walk in a park or going outside and and walking on a trail or playing golf, for example, so that has not changed. That’s what lifestyles have evolved in people’s minds so that’s why we feel that this feature is going to be a huge plus for our health and wellness landscape in Jamaica.”
Mais was also enthusiastic over the adding of a trade fair to this year’s conference, a feature he insists will be maintained going forward.
“A big difference this year, which we’re all very excited about, is the inclusion of a trade show. So, we’ve invited our suppliers, our manufacturers, our technicians, our entities, spas, services, and all of these aspects of our offering here in Jamaica, to a trade show where they can tell about their products. And [we will] really just help them to expose and bring attention to them — certainly to the local market but, more importantly, to the international travel market. And we have had a really great turnout and that, I think, is gonna grow from strength to strength and be a main feature of our conference going forward,” Mais said.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, who declared the conference open, said health and wellness was the third area of consumption across the world.
He added that the demand for health and wellness services will increase even more over the next 18 months when the room count for destinations is expected to increase by 5,000.