CARIBBEAN nations such as the Bahamas are moving to increasetheir share of the $40-$60 billion global health and wellness market, the region’s Spa Association leading the push by aiming to increase the sector’s visitor arrivals and revenues by as much as 10 per cent by 2015.
The Caribbean Spa and Wellness Association (C-SWA), supported by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), recently launched its new website, marking the beginning of their plan make the Caribbean a leading spa destination by 2015.
The proposed web portal will assist Caribbean Export and C-SWA in virtually promoting the region as a health and wellness destination.
The global health and wellness industry is a $40 billion international market, growing at 30 per cent per year, according to a Commonwealth Secretariat study, which also estimated the Caribbean’s potential for generating export earnings from this sector at $175 million.
C-SWA chairman, Steve Andrews, said the sector had “tremendous potential”, and suggested that the global economic crisis was leading to “more and more stressed out people” looking for the tranquility found at spas.
He added that the time taken to reach Thailand, a leading spa destination, from North America can take as much as 18 hours, yet their health and wellness sector had grown by 12 percent.
In his view the Caribbean had the potential to divert some of the traffic that is going to destinations like Thailand because “if you are stressed out, you are not going to want to sit on a plane for 18 hours”.
During a regional symposium last year, Mr Andrews noted that the global spa and wellness market was the fourth largest leisure sector globally, and had seen rapid growth of 20-30 per cent annually since the 1980’s.
During his presentation, Mr Andrews noted that development of the sector could position the Caribbean as a competitive market segment in travel and leisure.
Spa and wellness tourism provides customers with another valid reason to visit the Caribbean, Mr Andrews said, with the region’s largest markets - the US and the UK- becoming more spa conscious and searching for ways to a healthier lifestyle
Mr Andrews said the Caribbean’s strengths include natural beauty, good infrastructure, climate, geographic position, rich cultural heritage, a vibrant tourism industry and strong, world-class players.
According to Mr Andrews, in the Caribbean’s spa and wellness sector, 31 per cent of the spas are day spas; 26 are resort spas; 24 per cent independent message therapists; and 15 per cent alternative medicine.
The C-SWA’s three year plan for the Caribbean Spa & Wellness Sector includes the organisation’s development and strengthening; implementation of internationally accepted standards, certification and training; as well as the development of a Caribbean brand.