BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) has officially launched the industry standards for spa and wellness entities in CARIFORUM territories and the Caribbean spa and wellness sector strategy 2014-2018 for the region.
During the month of August Caribbean Export has conducted a spa and wellness strategy road show which has taken the team to Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and finally Barbados, where it has announced the implementation plan for the development and promotion of Caribbean health and wellness tourism sector, a project funded by CDB under the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTfund) programme, with financing from UK-AID that will benefit the wider Caribbean.
“The health and wellness sector is considered a specialized sector within tourism and in our view presents an opportunity for diversifying the tourism product offering across the wider Caribbean region,” commented executive director of Caribbean Export, Pamela Coke-Hamilton at the opening of the launch event held in Barbados on Wednesday.
As part of the road show, Caribbean Export, in conjunction with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), conducted a workshop for spa and wellness practitioners and stakeholders that covered three main components of the project: strategic development, marketing and brand development, and standards and quality development.
“It is imperative for the growth of the spa and wellness tourism sector here in Barbados and as a region that we secure endorsement from national policy makers and other stakeholders who can effect change to raise our standards and make the region more competitive internationally,” stated David Gomez, manager of trade and export development at Caribbean Export at the recently held launch event in Barbados.
The industry standards for spa and wellness entities in CARIFORUM territories were developed by the University of the West Indies, with Dr Damien Cohall serving as the chief consultant for the assignment. He expressed, on behalf of the UWI consultancy team, their pleasure in being able to provide input to the health and wellness project and viewed that “the efforts to build this segment of the Caribbean’s tourism product has not maximised the region’s full potential”.
The growth of the health and wellness segment of the Caribbean tourism industry will inevitably lead to job creation and corresponding economic growth of the CARIFORUM countries. According to a recent Commonwealth study the global health and wellness industry is a US$40 billion international market and is growing at 30% per annum, the study has also predicted export earnings of around US$175 million for the Caribbean.
“Health and wellness has been identified as one of the region’s growth sectors. The sector features a high percentage of women entrepreneurs and its products and services contribute directly to the health and wellbeing of its largely female client base,” stated Valarie Pilgrim, operations officer, Caribbean Development Bank and importantly, “this regional spa and wellness sector strategy is intended to be a working document. We are committed to not just the development of the strategy but more importantly – its implementation.”