Health Tourism in Dominica
While we must continue to explore external funding sources, it is imperative to 'dip down our buckets' where we are and start taking greater advantage and opportunities that our nature island home presents. The benefits of these options are certainly not going to come easy and fast but may result in sustainable dividends in the future. With proper long term and consistent planning, cooperation, commitment, political will and strong effective (less myopic) leadership, our developmental goals will have far greater chances of succeeding.
One such long-term sustainable policy developmental goal is the marketing of Dominica as a health tourism destination. Today a growing number of retirees with deep pockets worldwide are searching for destinations with alternative and natural forms of health benefits. These affluent and older tourists (baby-boomers) are constantly exploring ways to extend their lifespans. They are traveling to distant places for all sorts of natural therapeutic methods of health treatment to further extent their stay on this earth. Our island's unique attractiveness and natural gifts which 'are beyond compare', can lure health tourists from all over the world.
Dominica is uniquely qualified to capitalize on this booming health tourism niche market. But in order to have a fair chance of succeeding, a different way of thinking, doing business, marketing and acting on the part of those in the tourism/hotel-hospitality industry and government must be embraced and exhibited. The various government ministries, medical, hotel and local communities including safety, security and law enforcement, conservationists and others will have to be an integral component of the strategic planning aspect of the industry. Health tourism is not very different than beach, eco or traditional tourism besides some inherent ethical guidelines and practices that need to be adhered to.
The medicinal values of Dominica's natural resources such as the sulphur springs, boiling lake, hot Springs, waterfalls and tropical rain forests have been clearly documented over the years. The holistic healing powers of plants and herbs such as 'bazalick,' 'seimeicountrar, (teas)' 'tabac zobie' (jumbie's tobacco) and others should be continuously and aggressively promoted. Even the relaxing Jing-Ping music should be promoted as a healing dance similar to the classical symphony music of Mozart and Beethoven.
This use of natural plants, herbs and other forms of healing will only get bigger as people continue to seek more alternative and less invasive treatment modalities to cure their ailments. Five years ago the World Health Organization (WHO) began a long-term project of formally chronicling the medicinal and healing values of plants and herbs in most traditional cultures that have proven to have high healing rates for a variety of illnesses.
In order for this health tourism industry to 'get off the ground' survive and succeed the government and all the stakeholders will have to embark on an international, marketing and advertising campaign. The marketing strategy will be geared towards patients (tourists) who are seeking rest, relaxation and alternative forms of cure for their ailments, cancers and other illnesses which modern high tech medicine cannot or does not seem to have concrete answers to.
Members of the medical community will be responsible for the patients' conventional and unconventional medical treatments. Of course, the local medical doctors will have to communicate with the patient's doctors back in their home countries. This can easily be accomplished via social media (Tele-Internet- Based Medicine).
Where is the startup capital for this project coming from? This writer suggests that grants from the European Union (EU) and international donor organizations should be requested for a pilot study to jump-start the venture. These private-public- governmental and NGO partnership grant proposals should demonstrate and clearly outline how the project will be sustainable after the funding period is over. If the measurable financial implementation goals of health tourism can be achieved in a decade or less, it will mean sustainable development for our island home.
Nothing is more therapeutic and appealing to a person with failing health and high stress than finding an effective and efficient way to reverse that trend and maximize on their health and longevity. Nothing is more healing to a cancer patient than bathing in the early morning in the mineral rich waters of La Rivere Blance (White river) viewing the early morning sunrise at Point Mulatre bay amidst the gentle blowing Trade winds while sipping from a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Dominican bottled water or a warm cup of 'seimeicountrar ' tea. Doesn't this feel like paradise?
The early morning aroma of the Sulphur Springs or standing on the edge of a waterfall or hot spring is almost certain to make cancer patients feel that their prognosis is getting better and that life is worth living. Can you envision watching Travel Magazine show on CNN, Fox or BBC TV on the latest favorite health related rest and relaxation 'hang out spot' for the rich and famous, -the Nature isle of the Caribbean? Can you envision planeloads of rich passengers destined to Dominica seeking natural healing l to make them feel new and improved? Yes we can because Dominica should 'Defy the Everyday for Apres Bondie C'est Later.'