Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says that the Tourism Linkages Network plans to invest JM$66 million, over the next 3 years, for the development of the country’s health and wellness tourism product.
“Jamaica has a genesis in health and wellness as a tourism industry, and we want to drive that and spend more time on building it out. Therefore, we will be spending [JM]$22 million annually, over the next three years, to assist this process,” the tourism minister noted while at the opening ceremony for the inaugural Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference, held last Thursday.
The Tourism Linkages Network will be partnering with industry stakeholders to ensure Jamaicans create accredited, market-ready health and wellness tourism services based on their knowledge of traditional uses of endemic herbs and plants.
Bartlett cited studies that have identified 334 plants grown in Jamaica which can be used for medicinal purposes to-date, with the unofficial list being 366.
“Jamaica has been famous for all these oils that come from our ‘bush’ or herbs. But for us to be able to leverage all of that cultural heritage so that it can have an enormous impact in the tourism space will be a huge development,” he noted.
“Of these plants, 193 have been tested for bioactivity and crude extracts from samples of these have identified natural products, which are bioactive,” Bartlett added.
The minister pointed out that 31 of the plants tested were unique to Jamaica. In fact, the said hat 60 per cent of the world’s major medicinal herbs are currently grown in Jamaica, which ideally possesses the necessary conditions for growing a wide variety of medicinal herbs.
Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism’s thrust to develop a health and wellness product forms part of its mission to diversify its tourism offering outside of the conventional “sand, sea and sun” concept.
As such, the Health and Wellness Network, headed by acclaimed scientist Dr Henry Lowe, will be packaging, promoting and marketing health and wellness assets as an important tourism niche area. The network has been working with partners to create an effective governance framework that will make Jamaica’s wellness industry more internationally competitive.
“Research has also shown that health and wellness tourism represents one of the fastest-growing travel segments. Therefore, we must find ways to better support the enhancement and development of Jamaica’s health and wellness product,” Minister Bartlett commented.
The Jamaica Health and Wellness Conference took place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre November 20 – 21, 2019. It brought together scientists, researchers and research scholars to share their experiences and research results on all aspects of health and wellness tourism.
Organised by the Tourism Linkages Network, the conference held discussions focused on global health and wellness tourism data and insights; wellness travel experiences; nutraceuticals; herbaceuticals; medical tourism; and the health and wellness tourism value chain.