Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says Jamaica is uniquely poised to capitalise on a surge in wellness tourism as persons seek relief from the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“It is safe to anticipate that notwithstanding the toll on the travel industry, a lot of people will be anxious to go to some place where they can revive their spirits and recover from the mental strain brought about by lockdowns that have curtailed their movements for months,” he noted.
“We must make it our goal to be seen as the destination of choice for those who will choose the Caribbean for rejuvenation,” he said.
Minister Bartlett was delivering the keynote address at the opening of the second annual Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James, on Wednesday (November 18).
He said that the Government and tourism stakeholders have been successful in keeping the sector free from contamination, which will improve its attractiveness as a destination for wellness.
He noted that in the wider country, the efforts to curtail the virus are being recognised by the international community, with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recently singling out Jamaica alongside Argentina, Costa Rica and a few others as “countries that are doing well in their efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through contact tracing”.
Minister Bartlett commended the Tourism Linkages Network for staging the conference, which was held over two days under the theme ‘Reimagine, Reset, Restore’.
The event facilitated presentations and panel discussions on various topics relating to the theme, while gathering leaders in the industry to look at a plan for the new future.
Minister Bartlett noted that the linkages network has put measures in place to enhance Jamaica’s health and wellness products, and has developed a website – http://www.wellnessinja.com where persons can access a regularly updated listing of health and wellness experiences available across Jamaica.
He said that the network, which is a department of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is effectively carrying out its work in facilitating important economic connections between tourism operators and manufacturers and service providers.
“The various linkages have enabled more Jamaicans to reap direct benefits from what, up to February this year, was the fastest growing economic sector, locally and internationally,” Mr. Bartlett noted.
“It is going to take some time, but we will get back there and we must have the tools that are going to propel us forward,” he noted.
The Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference was also live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook @tefjamaica.