Jamaicans will tell you that there is a plant or natural remedy for every ailment that exists, and quite possibly, all of them can be found here. They may not always know how to use it, but most have a pretty good idea about the benefits to be derived.
Dr. Neville Graham, Consultant, General Laparoscopic Oncology and Vascular Surgeon, Chairman of Winchester Surgical and Medical Institute and Associate Professor and Dean of the Caribbean School of Medical Sciences Jamaica (CSMSJ) said wellness care and tourism in Jamaica can be bigger than we can even imagine. But what really is wellness care and wellness tourism?
He said wellness healthcare is the concept of getting people to full health or keeping them healthy through non-pharmacological avenues such as lifestyle changes and physical interventions. This usually takes place within an institution, amongst individuals, or through businesses such as spas.
Building on these services, Dr. Graham says Wellness Tourism refers to the offering of wellness healthcare while visiting another country. He explained,“Wellness Tourism comes to the fore when these services are offered to clients from a different country, and people visit the location or access the services.”
With several hotels, spas, and naturopathic institutions Dr. Graham is of the view that though what we have here is golden, the industry is in need of structure.
“Individuals do push the brand of wellness tourism especially through the initiative of JAMPRO and the Ministry of Tourism, however, it is not as organized as we want it to be in terms of policy and procedure that we want to guide the structure.”
“You have two types of tourist; those who come for wellness to locations such as the : Milk River Bath and Spa, Bath in St Thomas, and those who dabble in medical marijuana and then you have the tourists who come to Jamaica and these services are promoted to them through maybe the hotels and then they would access it” he further mentioned.
Dr. Graham said in his estimation less than 10% of the people who visit the island access these services because it is not being promoted well.
“A lot of the people from the diaspora access these services because they would have known about it for a long time…We need to push this brand of wellness tourism and health tourism because both complement each other.”
He said what the sector needs to do is to quantify the number of persons offering this service and the number of persons accessing the service offerings.
“We have a lot of people who operate spas, manage healing water sources, offer rehabilitative services… when we quantify them and build a policy – we encourage the practitioners and institutions. Give them incentives such as tax breaks, loans and help them build a brand and standardize the business so it looks more attractive because Jamaica is noted for its wellness tourism.”