Barbados promotes health and wellness tourism

 

On the Caribbean island of Barbados, the idea of health and wellness tourism is gaining popularity. Many businesses have been set up to offer services and treatments that cater to health, beauty and wellness. Such services include acupuncture, reflexology, yoga, reiki, ear candling, and fitness. They can be provided by medical practitioners or experts from local health spas. The Barbadian government is promoting and encouraging their health and wellness tourism.

The target market is mainly an aging population that has increased demands for fitness programmes, beauty treatment, cosmetic surgery, spas and retirement communities. But the island is also attracting younger customers keen on a healthier lifestyle, looking for vacation destinations that offer spa facilities, fitness and addiction treatment. The main market is Americans.

As the island has an established tourism infrastructure with high quality transport and hotels, it is as an ideal platform on which this new tourism market can be built. The climate is excellent, labour costs are low, communications and transport are reliable, Barbados hotel and tourism services are good, the population is well-educated and both public and private health and medical services have well-trained practitioners.

Many hotels are finding that it pays to have excellent amenities that support fitness and healthy lifestyles. Examples of hotels that provide fitness centers and spas are: Sugar Cane Club Hotel and Spa, Turtle Beach Hotel, The Crane Resort and Residences, Hilton Barbados, Accra Beach Hotel and Spa, Bougainvilla Beach Resort, and Divi Southwinds.

Barbados intends to create a tourism product that is unique amongst others in the Caribbean region. It is setting up a National Health Care Quality Council to attract more tourists for health and wellness. This intends to check that high quality standards exist so health tourism can be expanded within the island.

A report by the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development suggested that health tourism is essential to the region, but many obstacles hat currently hinder development need to go. The problems are medical practice, financing of care and insurance coverage, accreditation and standards, immigration and foreign exchange requirements and competition within the region. Despite several reports, many talks and conferences, there seems little real willingness for Caribbean countries to work together. They realize, without publicly admitting it, that their real competitors are not far off countries, but that they are individually competing for a limited local market on medical and health tourism.

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