Health and wellness tourism has been identified as a key area that will help to drive growth in the Jamaica tourism industry moving forward, in light of the new norm created in the global travel and hospitality market, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This position was outlined by Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett at the opening of the two-day Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference now underway at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. This is the second such conference being hosted by the Tourism Linkages Network, a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), and with physical attendance restricted by COVID-19 protocols, this year’s event is being streamed live to online participants.
Minister Bartlett said: “Health and Wellness will become one of the key cornerstones for destination differentiation in our tourism marketing. This is primarily because the new demographic emerging, Gen C, are going to be the new drivers of travel and they are going to require destinations that have strong health security properties.”
He noted that the Jamaican people are key players in the new thrust. “This is one of the reasons why we are going to be focusing heavily on building the capacity of our people to better take care of themselves and also to provide those elements of care that are going to be fitting the need that the visitors have when they come to the country,” said the Tourism Minister.
He proffered that the coronavirus pandemic has provided a new opportunity in the health and wellness tourism arena while also creating great demand for the island to be more pristine by making a greater investment in destination assurance. “Jamaica is going to have to establish itself as a destination where the confidence that the visitor wants, that he is going to be safe and secure, and he will have a seamless experience, is never second guessed,” underscored Minister Bartlett.
He says Jamaica’s tourism marketing will focus heavily on that as it seeks to woo back hundreds of thousands of visitors whose travel plans have been derailed since February this year by the pandemic. In that regard, Mr. Bartlett disclosed that an international team has begun work on Jamaica’s Destination Assurance Policy which will become the guiding light for the country’s own strategies to ensure better management of the destination.
The new tourism marketing thrust is supported by President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Clifton Reader who said “coming out of COVID-19 there will be a great demand, especially for older people travelling; they have the money to travel and they are going to bring their families, but, of course, they have preexisting conditions.”
Stating that health and wellness tourism was a very lucrative US billion dollar industry, Mr. Reader said: “When you look at the economic viability of this area, it is tremendous and Jamaica is so poised with all the facilities we have.” The JHTA president also said it was very important that through collaboration with government and private stakeholders, that the medical facilities within Jamaica be developed to attract more travelers.