KINGSTON — President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Sancia Templer, says that Jamaica is in an excellent position to take advantage of the global trend in wellness tourism, because of its natural resources and first-rate health care professionals.
Speaking at a Health and Wellness Tourism Stakeholder Workshop at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston on Wednesday, Mrs. Templer noted that there were many opportunities for Jamaica in this growing sector. She noted that research shows the sector earns over US$40 billion, annually.
“It’s a significant industry, and Jamaica only wants a small piece of that, and I am sure we can achieve that,” she stated.
“Our nurses are recruited to countries in North America every year, and that is because of the recognised excellence of our nursing professionals. We know that our medical practitioners are some of the best in the world, and so it’s a natural marriage between tourism and health,” she added.
She noted, however, that for this to become a reality, there was an important task ahead for local professionals, in the tourism and health fields, to work together with the ministries of health, tourism and industry, investment and commerce to forge a serious plan to develop a strategy for investments in this area.
Mrs. Templer said there are many spin offs for the general economy from this initiative, and Jamaica is well positioned to succeed in the industry.
“We’re close to the United States, we’re in the same time zone, same English language, cultural affinity and quality of our infrastructure: So, there is much that is already in place to build on to develop this industry,” she noted.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan, confirmed that Jamaica has identified the industry as a priority, as outlined in the National Growth Strategy recently presented by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
He also remarked that Jamaica’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030, clearly articulates the development of the sector, as a strategic initiative for advancement to first world status. He said Wednesday’s workshop was an important milestone in the move to further develop the industry, as this would help to formulate a strategy to move from paper and policy to action.
Mr. Budhan noted that the diagnostic report on the development of a health and wellness tourism sector for Jamaica, submitted by the CTA Economic and Export Analysts Limited, would also help the government to develop its policy on the sector.
He revealed that the report indicates that mainstream medical tourism can generate as much as US$200 million over four years, from one investment in a 200 bed hospital.
“The health and wellness sector, therefore, has the potential to generate significant foreign exchange inflows,” he noted.
The Health and Wellness Tourism Stakeholder workshop was also attended by members of the Commonwealth Secretariat, tourism and health experts, as well as economic and export analysts, who gathered to evaluate the recently submitted report.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter