Caribbean accommodates growing wellness industry

Health tourism, above and beyond the cosmetic or orthopedic surgery market, is a growing interest with consumers and according to a health and wellness expert, the Caribbean can accommodate this potential market while building on the utilization and preservation of its natural resources.
“By choosing ‘health & wellness’ as the theme for this year’s Sustainable Tourism Conference, the Caribbean has recognized the full impact of the rapidly expanding health tourism industry as it relates to differentiation and posterity in the marketplace,” noted Eric Light, president of the International Medical Spa Association and CEO of the Strawberry Hill Group.
Light, is recognized as a leading expert in spa, medical spa and wellness center development, and has helped develop facilities around the globe.
Light will address “Health Tourism - Alternate Strategies for the Caribbean” during the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) 9th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, otherwise called the Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC-9), in the Cayman Islands in May 2007.
He will discuss the global consumer trends of health tourism and how they will affect the marketing of the Caribbean in today’s business while positioning it for the future.
“This rapidly growing consumer interest in lifestyle improvement will offer anyone, from the single practitioner to boutique hotels to large scale resorts in the Caribbean, ways to differentiate themselves in the marketplace,” noted Light.
Light’s presentation will focus on how to expand this potential market all while developing strategies to employ the natural resources of the Caribbean.
Themed Health and Wellness: Communities, Environments & Economies, STC-9 will be held May 21-24, 2007, at the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa in Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands.
General sessions include: Health and Wellness Tourism: Opportunities and Challenges; Securing Environmental and Human Capital; Defining the Way Forward and Stakeholders Speak Out featuring discussions about “Developing Valuable Tourism Resources Within Our Communities: the Grand Cayman Go East Initiative,” “Preserving Our Culture: Preserving a Caymanian Identity,” “Raising the Bar: Customer Service Standards for the Tourism Sector,” and “The Role of the National Trust in Tourism Development.”
Workshops will focus on “Integrated Coastal Zone Management” and “Developing a Spa Business.”  There will also be a special presentation by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company which will provide an update on developments there since Puerto Rico hosted the 8th Annual Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC-8) in April 2006.
The annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development is part of the information dissemination and regional awareness component of CTO’s Strategy for Sustainable Tourism.  It looks at how member states can design and implement sustainable tourism policies and programs, offering a regional forum for information exchange on the successes and pitfalls of national, regional and international initiatives.

STC-9 is organized by CTO in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, and in consultation with the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA).  It is co-financed by the European Union within the framework of the Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development program (CRSTDP).

Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Program

The CRSTDP is an eight million euro program, implemented over a three year period, by CTO, CHA and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) as implementing agencies.
It gives the opportunity to have the main Caribbean tourism public and private sector organizations (CTO and CHA) work co-operatively and share responsibilities in program activities and implementation.
Funded by the European Union, the CRSTDP’s objective is to contribute to making the Caribbean tourism sector more competitive and more sustainable, contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction and to fostering the sustainability and competitiveness of the Caribbean tourism sector through the establishment of a sustainable development policy framework.
The Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands is a destination with a unique and exciting historic, natural and maritime heritage.  The Cayman Islands is comprised of three islands: Grand Cayman, home to a vibrant port capital George Town and a thriving financial sector; and Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, “the sister islands,” with their attractive coastlines and unspoiled areas of natural landscape and vegetation—a true nature lovers “paradise.”
Blessed with one of the world’s most beautiful reef systems and a healthy marine environment, the destination offers visitors an unforgettable underwater experience; whether they engage in snorkeling and diving activities or venture below the water’s surface onboard a submarine.  For those who have a robust taste for life and want to experience more adventure and exhilaration, the trio of islands has the supreme recipe for sports enthusiasts, not only in water but also on land; from walking, biking and hiking to golfing, fishing and taking part in a game of cricket or rugby.
The Cayman Islands offers a diverse tourism product which embraces not only its land and marine environments but also showcases its cultural and built heritage, experienced in the culinary delights presented by the wide array of restaurants on the islands; the music, the arts and crafts, the museums, the traditional buildings and, especially, in the interaction with the people of Cayman.