Market Jamaica for health tourism, says Homer Davis
Homer Davis, state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister West, wants Jamaica to take advantage of events such as the annual Courts Jamaica-sponsored MoBay City Run to effectively market the country as a health tourism destination.
Davis made the recommendation while giving the keynote address at Tuesday’s press launch of the 2023 MoBay City Run, which will be staged on May 7. The charity run/walk event, in its first staging since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to raise J$5 million to support students pursuing tertiary education.
“The MoBay City Run has two very important components – education and health and wellness, which are major selling points for a tourism centre destination such as Montego Bay. The health and wellness industry today has a value of over J$2 trillion,” said Davis.
“It is my view that the time has come for Jamaica and the tourism capital of the Caribbean, Montego Bay, the tourism Mecca of Jamaica, to start a major campaign to market our country as the healthiest destination in the region. Events like the MoBay City Run have given Jamaica a great opportunity to become a major player in health and wellness tourism,” added Davis.
Davis’ recommendation echoes a similar call that was made in 2013 by the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation [JDCF], which described health tourism as an overlooked avenue that Jamaica should place more focus on as a potential market to tap into.
At that time, the JDCF’s president Valarie Steele indicated that expatriates would be willing to collaborate with the Government of Jamaica to improve local healthcare and develop health tourism.
In 2021, Runsung Masakui, India’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, announced a $40-billion health tourism project to be developed in Montego Bay over a five-year period as part of plans for collaboration between India and Jamaica.
That project was started by the Montego Bay-based Bioprist Group, which is led by medical doctor and real estate developer Dr Guna Muppuri. A partnership was subsequently forged between Bioprist and the University of the West Indies that would see part of Bioprist’s planned medical tourism resort complex housing the western campus of the university’s medical faculty.
In the meantime, Davis told Tuesday’s launch that the MoBay City Run’s focus on health and educational support serves a dual purpose in the development of Montego Bay.
“MoBay City Run has been the bedrock on which a number of students have stood and continue to stand as they pursue their tertiary-level studies. In supporting this event, you will be using ‘one stone to kill two birds’. You will be supporting education and your health simply by being an active participant,” said Davis.