Mon | Jan 20, 2020

TEF hosts inaugural health and wellness tourism conference

Published:Wednesday | November 27, 2019 | 12:13 AMPaul H. Williams - Hospitality Jamaica Writer
Products made of natural ingredients by the Rastafari Indigenous Village in Montego Bay.
Products made of natural ingredients by the Rastafari Indigenous Village in Montego Bay.

From Wednesday, November 20, to Thursday, November 21, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) hosted the inaugural Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference ­inside the Montego Bay Convention Centre under the theme ‘The New Futures’.

It was developed and coordinated by the Tourism Linkages Network, a division of the TEF, an agency of the Ministry of Tourism. “The Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference was created with an aim of bringing together leading academics, scientists, researchers and research ­scholars to exchange and share their ­experiences and research results on all aspects of health and wellness tourism,” the TEF said.

In the programme notes, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says, “This conference is a positive step in the right direction as we strive to promote awareness of Jamaica’s health and wellness industry and give more Jamaicans an opportunity to earn from the industry using knowledge garnered from the event.”

The minister was the keynote speaker, and he said, among other things, “The Health and Wellness Network is tasked with developing the health and wellness offering here in Jamaica and making the link between tourism and that subsector.”

Also addressing the gathering in the opening session was Omar Robinson, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association. “We know that the growing international demand for wellness services and treatment has given rise to health and wellness tourism, and ­thankfully, Jamaica has all the ­attributes to be well positioned in this market as well,” he said.

The conference fell under the health and wellness arm of the network, which is chaired by scientist, Professor Henry Lowe, who welcomed participants during the opening session on Wednesday. Professor Lowe’s MEDICANJA products were on display among exhibitors, such as Eden Gardens Neutraceuticals, The Best Dressed Chicken, Natalie Murray, Sharon Feanny, Honeyvera, Rastafari Indigenous Village, SureTime Emergency Medical Services and Biotech R and D Institute.

The conference consisted mainly of a series of panel discussions on: the importance of public-private partnership in the development of health and wellness tourism in Jamaica; current and emerging perspectives on phytomedicines on health and wellness programme activities in Jamaica; communities and the wellness tourism experience; education and certification in the wellness tourism industry; the role of spas in securing Jamaica’s future as a destination for health and wellness; ecotourism and fitness in Jamaica; nutraceuticals; and the potential role of cannabis in health and wellness tourism.

Omar Robinson moderated a session on ‘Hotel and new health and wellness practitioners’, while Dr Andre McDonald of SureTime Emergency Medical Services spoke about, ‘Worry less, live more’. There were also a book launch, food demonstrations, a body-scrub mini workshop, and a yoga/­exercise session.