Caribbean Islands Scratch a New Niche

As Caribbean islands continue to search for those tourism numbers from the glory days of 2008, several destinations are promoting new niches with the goal of drawing in a brand new client.

The island of St. Lucia, known as a leading Caribbean destination for romance and boutique luxury, is embracing a new niche - health and wellness.

In fact, the first Saint Lucia Health and Wellness Retreat is set for November 17 to 20 in Soufrière with the support of the Soufrière Foundation, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and American Airlines.

Speaking to media and public relations professionals in New York City last month at The Carlton Hotel in Manhattan, Director of Tourism Louis Lewis asserted the move to the new niche was a strategic one in line with what was happening internationally.

"To keep apace with global trends, we are now embarking on a key strategy to target the wellness community who are naturally drawn to Saint Lucia's therapeutic, spiritual and healthy attractions, especially in the southern town of Soufrière," he said.

Soufrière is home to the world famous Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and contains one of the world's few drive-in volcanoes where the therapeutic mineral baths await the wellness traveler.

Lewis said many of the island's top hotels and resorts, including Sandals, The BodyHoliday, Ladera and The Jalousie Plantation, had either expanded or improved their spa facilities. These developments, he added, were natural complements to the romantic allure of the destination.

Meanwhile, in Jamaica, the Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) is promoting community tourism on an island mostly known for water sports, family vacations and destinations weddings.

Two community tourism leaders who lead active organizations have teamed up to offer clients education vacations to Jamaica with a focus on community tourism.

The IIPT, as well as foreign and local networks, have partnered to engage some 300 communities nationwide in the entrepreneurial Villages as Businesses program, which would result in sustainable community tourism. This program has been developed to provide training and create economic opportunities for community persons interested in investing in their communities by offering community tourism products, rooms, and attractions that build on unique natural, cultural, and human capital.

Caribbean partners are encouraged to become members of the IIPT Caribbean/Countrystyle Community Tourism Network and to participate in the Villages as Businesses program to help foster the continued growth and success of community tourism within the region as an integrated people-centered approach to sustainable tourism.

Visitors participating in these educational vacations to learn Jamaican culture, heritage, and cuisine will immerse themselves into the traditional village lifestyle, which is a unique unparalleled experience. The warm, friendly villagers will welcome the visitor with their traditional Mento and folk music, dance, and cuisine, which makes learning so much fun!

The 10-day package offers accommodation in smaller properties and homestays including all meals featuring Jamaican cuisine, community experience tours to many diverse villages; a train tour from the Jamaica Railway Corporation (recently renovated and re-opened); Fi Read Jamaica information book on Jamaican beauty, vibes, and culture by Kevin O'Brien Chang; and a Community Tourism Manual featuring The Youth Transformation Program.

In addition, membership is offered in the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) Caribbean and the IIPT/Countrystyle Community Tourism Network and a certificate of participation in Community Tourism from the International Community Tourism Institute (ICTI) in collaboration with the Western Hospitality Institute (WHI).

Keep visiting as we continue to keep an eye on this growing Caribbean trend.