By Nickieta Sterling
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The ministry of tourism will be spending $66 million over the next three years to strengthen and expand health and wellness tourism in Jamaica, “a growing market internationally and Jamaica is uniquely poised to capitalise on the industry,” said tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett.
He said research has shown that health tourism represents one of the fastest-growing travel segments, with a 12 percent expansion each year, and Jamaica has much to contribute to all facets of that sector.
Minister Bartlett was speaking at the inaugural Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference under the theme ‘The New Futures’ brings together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences on all aspects of health and wellness tourism.
He noted that policies and strategies are being developed through the tourism linkages network to enhance Jamaica’s health and wellness products.
“We will be working with teams to do packaging, promoting and marketing of health and wellness assets as an important tourism niche area and we want to be working in partnership with industry stakeholders and promoting accredited, market-ready health and wellness tourism services,” he noted. And that “special focus will be placed on research and development in the herbaceutical sector, including the promotion of health products based on plants that are endemic to Jamaica.”
“To be able to leverage all of the cultural heritage for enormous impact in a tourism space is a huge development. Studies have indicated that, to date, 334 plants growing in Jamaica can be identified as medicinal,” he said, noting that 31 of the plants tested are endemic to the island. “Jamaica possesses the ideal location for cultivation of a wide variety of medicinal herbs. Sixty percent of the world’s medical herbs are currently grown in Jamaica,” he pointed out.