He said this form of differentiation would produce tourism experiences that could not be replicated by other destinations.
“The richness of our biodiversity and the potential for nutraceutical products that are in demand and offer so much possibility for health and wellness put Jamaica as a premier destination in the Caribbean in particular, as we are the country with perhaps more offerings for health and wellness than all the English-speaking Caribbean islands combined,” said Mr. Bartlett.
With an increased demand for health and wellness and safety standards following the COVID-19 pandemic, he pointed to an exponential growth in spas and other health products globally and “even here in Jamaica, as we have seen a proliferation of health and wellness activities in various areas.”
Globally, the health and wellness subsector of the tourism industry is said to be valued at some US$4.3 trillion, and according to the managing director of the international healthcare and real estate investing firm NovaMed, Dr. David Walcott, “in this hemisphere we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.”
He was a panelist on a fireside chat at the conference, which is running over two days under the theme:
However, pinning his remarks on “Investing in a Whole New Era of Health and Wellness,” Dr. Walcott says, “We have to recognize the trends that the global audience is responding to.”
He gave as examples the appetite for personalized, customized offerings, a wellness experience that is less product-oriented but more on a curated experience, echo-friendly wellness products, “a big area that we haven’t even scratched the surface on,” and integrated wellness technology.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Health and Wellness Network of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Mr. Garth Walker, said the conference was a celebration of the strides that had been made and the potential that lay ahead in the vibrant realm of health and wellness tourism.
He said the rich diversity of experiences and perspectives brought together in the conference was testament to the global impact and importance of health and wellness tourism, and “Jamaica is set to promote existing products and services while strategically developing and marketing spa facilities throughout the island.”
The goal, said Mr. Walker, was to enhance and develop Jamaica’s health and wellness products and packages, positioning it as a standard niche in the world of tourism and showcasing the country as a premier destination for those seeking not just a vacation but a holistic wellness experience.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Mr. Robin Russell, also underscored the growing trend of visitors travelling for health and wellness and noted that a trend was now developing with local hotels introducing more organic products into their foods and integrating fresh-grown gardens on their properties.
He stressed that “the consumer is now demanding it, and we have to give it to them, and we do it naturally, which is why it is easy for us to do.”
Mr. Russell also stated that there was a move to get Jamaicans into a healthier lifestyle, to live a better life, “and when we speak about those persons coming to Jamaica and experiencing wellness, I would say that we have to be well also.”
SEEN IN IMAGE: Tourism officials (from second left) President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Mr Robin Russell; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Ms Jennifer Griffith; Executive Director of Jamaica Vacations, Ms Joy Roberts; Chairman of the Health and Wellness Network of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Mr Garth Walker; and Senator Dr Saphire Longmore listen keenly as a representative from the BodyScape Spa explains the benefits of their line of products. The occasion was the 5th annual Health and Wellness Conference of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, on Thursday, November 16, 2023, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.