by Nov 25, 2021Pulse

Officials say Ja can master health & wellness tourism

Getting a share of the US$4.3-trillion health and wellness tourism market has been singled out as one of the targets in the Government’s Blue Ocean strategy to help claw back some of the $46.3 billion in revenue eaten away by the novel coronavirus. But there have been rumblings about Jamaica’s need to capitalise on the niche market for years. Is there still time for the country to get its share of the pie, estimated to be growing at nine per cent annually?

Those who say Jamaica is slow out of the starting blocks point out that Europe and North America have long cornered the market and, even within the Caribbean, there is fierce competition. For example, Cuba and the Dominican Republic have outstripped Jamaica and other English-speaking neighbours in the medical tourism market, based on an assessment by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

However, tourism officials banking on health and wellness to make Jamaica stand out in the Blue Ocean, they see as the sector’s future, are insisting we have not been left behind.

Director of Tourism Donovan White is confident Jamaica still has time to get its fair share of the pie, including a foray — led by the private sector — into medical tourism which he listed along with cannabis and yoga as areas of opportunity.

“I know that Jampro has been looking at developing a policy framework around how we best deliver on medical tourism, and what are going to be the critical strategic outputs that we want to have. Some of that is still under development,” he tells

Director of Tourism Donovan White

He’s encouraging private medical practitioners to explore the opportunities available and assess whether they have the scope and scale needed to compete.

“We think that as we continue to advance in this space that more private sector businesses will see the opportunity, which they should. It is theirs for the taking, that’s why they’re in business. We want to encourage that in the entrepreneurial space because that will only help to build our tourism product to be more augmented,” says White.

Efforts to capitalise on medical tourism, he adds, should be done in tandem with exploring the “other parts of our natural environment that lend themselves easily to wellness and health”.

“We’re continuing to see the demand for that grow. We’re going to continue to nurture it as a critical, strategic pillar of the ministry as to how we begin to diversify our product offerings right across the board,” says White.

He anticipates increased demand for health and wellness tourism as Jamaica pushes further into Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as Asia Minor to attract visitors.

“We certainly believe that it’s a growing phenomenon, it is not beyond us to grow into that space. We’re going to continue to harden our strategies around that so that when we finally go big with it, we go strong, and that way we can get the results that we want,” says the tourism director.

President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Clifton Reader, is also bullish about health and wellness tourism and equally certain Jamaica has not missed its chance to tap into the growing niche market.

JHTA President Clifton Reader

“I don’t think we’ve missed the boat,” he tells, saying aspects of wellness have always been included in the country’s offerings to visitors. “I believe wellness tourism will grow in Jamaica. It’s a huge market,” he adds.

The way forward, Reader suggests, should include identifying and marketing signature products that will put Jamaica on the map. Spas could develop signature massages or facials using products such as local coffee or brown sugar, he says.

“Just like how you go to Cuba and say you want a mojito, we should have signature items for Jamaica,” adds Reader who notes that another potential market could include packaging and exporting locally made products. A foodie who has himself been on vacations that allowed him to explore other destinations through their meals and culture, he adds that every effort should be made to include food in any discussion about wellness tourism in Jamaica. 

Reader also stresses the importance of training and development.

“We have to train our people to develop new products, and how to use them safely with guests. Because remember, our skin type is somewhat different from other skin types as well. So even products that we have now and have been using, we have to be careful how we experiment with other people,” says the JHTA head.

The good news is that steps are already being taken in this area and there are plans to do even more. The Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI) has been certifying spa supervisors since its launch in 2017. 

JCTI Director CarolRose Brown

“We are currently exploring ways of offering additional certification in this area to include managers. This should be resolved by the start of the new financial year,” JCTI Director CarolRose Brown tells

There appear to be bits and pieces of a plan in place to tap into health and wellness tourism, but it will take time to implement.

As tourism director White notes, “Wellness and health tourism is not an overnight development. I think one of the things Jamaica wants to do is to continue to explore where the best options are available to us, which markets are best enabled, and which segments we best develop.”


What's Trending


Twitter Feed

No Tweets available. Login as Admin to see more details.