Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has identified health, community, cultural and sports tourism as key areas within the industry that are ripe for investment.
Speaking Thursday March 1 at the ‘Invest in Tourism Roundtable’ session, held as part of the Jamaica Investment Forum now underway at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, the Minister said that these and other areas can attract both foreign direct as well as local investment to boost the tourism product and enhance conditions for growth in the country.
Highlighting the benefits of health tourism, Minister McNeill said that the centuries-old tradition of health or therapeutic travel is enjoying tremendous resurgence internationally and “we have great opportunities in this area."
He cited the refurbishing of two of Jamaica’s most famous spas – the Milk River Hotel and Spa in Clarendon and the Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa in St. Thomas, noting that these, and other health-related facilities, “present on-going opportunities for real transformation into major attractions in the international health tourism market as well as the area of offshore healthcare."
Turning to community tourism, he said that this area of the sector can have major impact on the total visitor experience, noting that there are opportunities for investment initiatives at the broadest level.
He informed that presently, the policy framework is being developed to facilitate investment in this area with the Ministry’s Draft Community-based Tourism Policy and Strategy at the green paper stage, and will be circulated and discussed at island-wide consultations.
As it relates to cultural and sports tourism, the Minister stated that “aggressive use of the obvious link between tourism, entertainment and sports, opens investment opportunities for entertainment complexes, recreational facilities and cultural venues that are unique to Jamaica."
He noted that the country’s strength in music, dance, cuisine, literature and other art forms, as well as “the record-shattering sporting performances” must be fully explored and exploited.
‘There is no better time than this Olympic year, in concert with the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence, for entrepreneurial minds to examine the events, tours and packages that can satisfy and stimulate the entertainment and education of visitors and local residents alike, as we seek to further open up the competitive sports tourism market,” he told the investors.
Minister McNeill said the government is determined to facilitate an enabling environment for investment, which includes further infrastructural development; ensuring environmental protection; diversification and deepening of the product offering and continued human resource development for service enhancement and improved security.
“I can say, on all counts, that the determination to ensure that Jamaica’s tourism is competitive and cutting edge, with the required facilitation of continuous improvements and innovation, is absolute,” he added.
By Kadian Brown, JIS PRO