Long a cannabis-friendly vacation destination — even if the commerce patronized was, technically, illegal — the birthplace of Bob Marley is laying plans to create a legal, government-sanctioned “health and wellness tourism” economy.
And that includes Jamaican-grown cannabis.
During remarks given at Canex Jamaica — the island’s very own cannabis business conference — Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said he believes Jamaica’s southwestern coast is the ideal place to draw tourists more interested in being healthy than swilling tequila on the beach in Cabo.
And cannabis would “play a major part” in such a tourism draw, reports state.
Barlett is looking for ways to grow the island’s annual visitors from four million this year to five million by 2021.
And cannabis — legally purchase heirloom strains of the kind enjoyed by the reggae stars who have made Jamaican culture known and marketed around the world — could be the key.
Jamaica recently decriminalized cannabis but — at least in theory — people aren’t supposed to sell or buy it. Meanwhile, the image of Jamaica’s most famous son, late reggae supestar Bob Marley, is being used to sell marijuana in California under the Marley Natural brand.
In his remarks, Barlett said he realizes “how the cannabis product and its application could fit neatly in a network of health and wellness that could drive a new demographic into Jamaica with a higher spend and which will be able to establish us as a destination with a difference,” according to Travel Daily News. “[W]hat we’ve found also is that cannabis-infused experiences have added much to health and wellness across the United States.”
To allow ganja-centric tourism would require an update of national policy, and Bartlett promised a “full roll-out of that by the end of 2017.”
Countries across the Caribbean are warming to the international cannabis market, which was once focused on the region.
“Why should they be making all the money from a herb that emerged in our region?,” Felicia J. Persaud, CEO and founder of Invest Caribbean Now (ICN) stated at the Invest Turks & Caicos ‘Enhancing National Competitiveness Conference. “We as Caribbean leaders must create a new direction for our people in order to meet the economic challenges of our time.
Global cannabis tourism could reach $454 billion, according to Jamaica’s tourism minister.