“A Practical Guide to Incorporating Caribbean Cultural Assets into Spa Services” will be a key tool developed for Spas across the region by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) as the result of a Supplemental Grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) under the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration (CARTFund) Programme, funded by one of Caribbean Export’s strategic partners, the Department for International Development (DFID).
The Caribbean’s strategic geographic position, its rich and varied cultural heritage and botanical resources, and its strong and vibrant tourism industry are considered unique selling points not to be overlooked when branding and marketing the regions spas. As such, Caribbean Export will seek to deliver technical assistance to a total of 32 selected spas in eight territories, specifically Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with a view to increasing their capacity to infuse a menu of distinguishing features of Caribbean culture and natural environment into their spa products and treatments, distinguishing their services and product from competing international destinations.
In addition to brand development, attention will be paid to quality assurance within the regional Spa and Wellness Sector by way of the provision of technical assistance to spas in six pilot countries to support their adoption and compliance with regional voluntary spa industry standards.
These are just two of the projects the Agency has lined up following the receipt of this supplemental grant of just over $320,000USD. Other projects include the enhancement of the Caribbean Spa and Wellness Sector Strategy 2014 – 2018, which was developed under an earlier iteration of the CARTFund Programme. The strategy will be developed to be more socially inclusive and gender responsive ensuring all relevant projects going forward can be thus informed. Further, in keeping with the ever-important international gender rubric, coming on stream shortly will be the development of a training programme on internet marketing and social media specifically for female-led businesses.
The timely allocation of this Supplemental Grant will allow Caribbean Export to continue its efforts at increasing the capacity of CARIFORUM’s SME’s within the Spa and Wellness sector to be able to compete on a global scale and meet the various international standards requirements for competitive export. Critically, the Agency will seek to work closely with business development and trade support organizations throughout the region, whose roles are seen as vital to the successful execution and achievement of the programme’s goals.
Thus far much was achieved under the initial CARTFund Programme, in terms of foundational strategic work in building and positioning the sector for real growth. Projects included the development of voluntary internationally benchmarked industry standards; the training of 28 persons in Jamaica, Belize and Dominica to Level 3 of the ITEC Diploma in Holistic Massage Therapy, in keeping with the regional industry standards; and the development of a model quality manual drafted for use as a guide by spas to introduce quality management systems that are aligned to the internationally benchmarked standards. Ten (10) spas in five countries within the region – Barbados, Belize, Dominica, St. Lucia and Jamaica – were direct beneficiaries of this initiative, and it is anticipated that the Manual will be refined for a second roll-out of the project to be targeted to at least another ten spas in the territories which formed part of the original pilot, and two new territories within the region.
All in all, it is hoped that the benefits derived by the SME’s within the targeted sector from the direct interventions made possible by the additional resources will have a knock-on effect on the various economies of the CARIFORUM over the short to medium term, and will help to distinguish the region as a source of high-valued and distinctive goods and services.