Gillian Hyde, general manager, JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL), is urging Jamaica to tap into the US$700-billion wellness tourism industry in order to maximise its potential in the sector, especially, as the country looks to recover from the current recession.

Hyde affirmed that health and wellness tourism presents the perfect opportunity for Jamaica to expand its tourism offerings, while showcasing the country’s capacity to offer holistic services.

“The value of the wellness tourism industry is about US$700 billion. This is within the context of a global tourism industry valued at US$4.5 trillion,” revealed Hyde. “A Jamaica fully in the midst of the US$700-billion sector can capitalise and position itself to earn substantially and become a major player, while maximising our potential.”

“Wellness tourism presents a huge opportunity to continue to diversify our tourism product, while building resilience and maximising on the linkages that exist within the sector,” she added.

Hyde was speaking during a panel discussion on ‘Financing and Enhancing Capital Returns on the Health and Wellness Tourism Product’ at the Health and Wellness Tourism Conference on November 19. The virtual conference was held under the theme ‘Re-imagine, Reset, Restore’.

The JNSBL general manager said that wellness tourism is a diverse subsector which can benefit a wide cross section of Jamaicans.

GROWING SECTOR

“When we think about wellness, we must also remember we are speaking about the physical, mental and spiritual. Based on this, there exists a major opportunity for our spas, which are many, our culture, the natural baths and springs, our nutraceuticals and beauty sector, as well as fitness – which is another growing sector in Jamaica,” she explained.

“Our religious sector is another area that contributes to our wellness. Therefore, there exists the opportunity to make our product attractive because there is something unique about Jamaica. Therefore, Brand Jamaica is well poised to capitalise on the opportunities that exist within the industry,” she noted.

She added that Jamaica already had a unique tourist product based on its beauty and culture, and promoting health and wellness tourism would strengthen this offering. Hyde noted that JNSBL was well positioned to provide financial support to the small and medium players in the sector who needed assistance to capitalise on this growth area.

Lisa Bell, managing director, EXIM Bank, stated that there were important areas within the health and wellness tourism sector that have been pinpointed as areas of opportunity for Jamaica to grow its tourism product.

Therese Turner-Jones, general manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group, Inter-American Development Bank, added that health and wellness tourism represented an opportunity for Jamaica to sell itself as a safe destination during COVID.

“Jamaica has managed the pandemic really well, and areas such as health and wellness tourism represents an opportunity for Jamaica to sell itself as a safe destination,” she noted.

Edison Galbraith, general manager, loan origination and portfolio management, Development Bank of Jamaica, said the country had tremendous advantages in the health and wellness tourism space and should position itself as a major player in the sector.

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