In 2021, Jamaica continued to position itself as a center for leisure travel and for health and medical tourism. It also strengthened its branding as a cannabis and psychedelic health destination, as well as continuing to promote new cannabis products and licenses. The news also covered the expansion of resorts and telecommunications. Jamaica and its attractions also continued to prove their appeal to tourists by winning numerous travel awards for the year. Jamaica will be the site of the first-of-its-kind psychedelic psychiatry facility when the Aion International Center of Psychedelic Psychiatry opens uses the drug psilocybin to treat addiction, depression, and anxiety. Montego Bay will be home to a new health training institute in 2022 in what is meant to expand the nation’s health tourism and medical education options. The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston will now include a cannabis retail store and dispensary on the premises in the first expansion of the Marley Natural retail brand, and the Marley family made a licensing agreement with Silo Wellness Inc. that gives the firm exclusion international rights to brand, market and sell a unique product line of functional and psychedelic mushrooms. Three new resorts will be built in Jamaica by Sandals Resorts International, and the government approved a license for the local firm Rock Mobile, making it the third telecommunications provider in the country. Dufry, a global travel retailer, obtained a six-year extension on its concession contract at Sangster International Airport, and the Ministry of Finance okayed plans for the Bank of Jamaica to operate independently of the Ministry. Jamaica continued its winning streak at the World Travel Awards, receiving top honors in the categories of Leading Caribbean Destination, Leading Caribbean Cruise Destination, and the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board, among others, while the Port of Falmouth won two awards at the first staging of 2021 World Cruise Awards ceremony, being named World’s Best Cruise Terminal and the Caribbean’s Best Cruise Terminal.
FIRST INTERNATIONAL FACILITY FOR PSYCHEDELIC PSYCHIATRY TO OPEN IN JAMAICA
The Aion International Center of Psychedelic Psychiatry, the first facility of its kind, is set to open in Jamaica. Initially, the center will focus on the use of psilocybin in the treatment of addiction, depression, and anxiety. The United States Food and Drug Administration has supported the use of such therapy for treating major depressive disorder. The new center in Jamaica will also perform research in the use of “magic mushrooms” as a therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia nervosa. Dr. Winston De La Haye will be the medical director. Along with treating local and international patients, the center will collaborate with the University of the West Indies and other institutions in Jamaica on research and development of treatments of mental illness.
NEW HEALTH TRAINING INSTITUTE SLATED FOR MONTEGO BAY
A new health training institute designed to expand Jamaica’s health tourism and medical education offerings will be established in Montego Bar. The US$17-million facility is scheduled to open in June of 2022. It will be hosted by the University of the West Indies (UWI) and serve as a satellite campus for the Bioprist institute of Medical Sciences. The institute will be located in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) that focuses on health and wellness. The zone will be known as “The Grand Ridge Medical City,” which will be constructed, operated, and promoted by the Bioprist Group, which involves various diversified sectors in health care, pharmaceuticals, and related industries. UWI and the Bioprist Group held a virtual ceremony on May 18, 2021, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the initiative.
BOB MARLEY MUSEUM TO OPEN CANNABIS RETAIL STORE
A cannabis retail store and dispensary at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica, will be the first in the expansion of the Marley Natural retail brand. The plan is to expand to additional locations throughout Jamaica and North America in the future. Bob Marley’s former home in Kingston was converted to a museum in 1987 by his wife Rita Marley and displays the reggae legend’s personal artifacts and more. It features a theater, photo gallery, and record and gift shop. It will soon include the First Marley Natural dispensary. The Marley family and Docklight Brands have the exclusive global rights to Bob Marley cannabinoid products. The store will feature cannabis and CBD products from the Marley Natural line and accessories. It has received conditional approval from the cannabis licensing authority in Jamaica, but guests must have a physician’s note to buy cannabis products.
MARLEY FAMILY JOINS WITH SILO WELLNESS TO LAUNCH PSYCHEDELIC MUSHROOM BRAND
The family of Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley have entered into a license agreement with Silo Wellness Inc., a wellness firm in the psychedelics and “functional mushroom” markets. Under the multi-year agreement, Silo Wellness will have the exclusive international rights to brand, market, and sell a unique product line of functional and psychedelic mushrooms. According to Rita Marley, wife of Bob Marley and the family matriarch, the Marleys are glad to collaborate with Silo Wellness to create the first global mushroom brand in history. She added that, in their youth, she and Bob Marley included medicinal mushrooms in their “strict, natural diet” and that mushrooms mesh with the Marley’s vision of a world improved by natural products. Cedella Marley, the daughter of Bob and Rita Marley, said the family wants to use its platform to facilitate positive change in the world. “Mushrooms have been used for centuries, and we believe they offer a natural pathway for healing and positivity,” she said. Jamaica is the only country in the world where psilocybin can be grown, extracted, and sold legally, which allows the island to find direct benefits from wellness tourism and the sale of psychedelic mushrooms.
JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES LICENSING OF THIRD TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROVIDER
The local company Rock Mobile will be the third telecommunications provider in Jamaica, having received approval from the Cabinet for a license to provide services, according to Daryl Vaz, Minister of Science, Energy, and Technology. The firm expects to have a total roll-out of its services within the next two years. Vaz noted that the license must be used, or it will be rescinded. Vaz said he believes that licensing a third telecoms provider is the best way to ensure that quality service is provided to Jamaicans at affordable prices. Rock Mobile is expected to enhance broadband access in currently underserved areas and to those areas that have no access at all. Its network is likely to cover 95 percent of the island at the minimum download rate. Rock Mobile will compete with the two current telecoms, Flow and Digicel.
SANDALS RESORTS HOLDS GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY TO MARK CREATION OF THREE NEW RESORTS IN JAMAICA
The top luxury resort company in the Caribbean, Sandals Resorts International (SRI), celebrated its legacy in Jamaica and reaffirmed its commitment to the nation in a special groundbreaking ceremony on May 26, 2021. The event marked the first phase of an ambitious three-resort project totaling US$230 million that will include Sandals Dunn’s River. The first phase will be followed by a second that will transform the adjacent ocean front property into Sandals Royal Dunn’s River. The ceremony was attended by Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other dignitaries. Jamaican Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett believes the Sandals expansion represents a “strong vote of confidence” for Jamaica and tourism in the Caribbean following the downturn caused by COVID-19.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL RETAILER DUFRY WINS 6-YEAR EXTENSION TO SANGSTER AIRPORT CONCESSION CONTRACT
Dufry, a global travel retailing firm, has won a six-year extension to its current retail concession business at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The agreement covers duty-free and duty-paid shops at the airport. Under the extension, MBJ Airports, manager of Sangster, and Dufry, which operates travel retailing entities in 63 countries, includes a six-year duty-paid concession that will go into effect in June 2021 for a number of the retailer’s specialized shops and a new five-year duty-free contract that will be effective from August of 2021. The new shops include a walk-through shop, two last-minute duty-free shops in departure areas, and a duty-free arrivals shop.
BANK OF JAMAICA PERMITTED TO OPERATE INDEPENDENTLY OF JAMAICA’S FINANCE MINISTRY
The Bank of Jamaica (Amendment) Act of 2020, which went into effect on April 16, 2021, allows the central bank to operate independently of the government’s Ministry of Finance. The chief goals of the law include allowing the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) to provide oversight maintenance of price and financial system stability. The finance minister will no longer have the power to direct monetary policy under the new law. The BOJ’s Monetary Policy Committee will now seek to obtain and maintain price stability via achieving an inflation target established by the Minister of Finance in consultation with the bank’s governor. The law also prohibits the government from borrowing from the BOJ except in cases of a declared national emergency.
JAMAICA WINS TOP HONORS AT WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS
Jamaica has taken home the top honors for a Caribbean destination at the World Travel Awards. The awards include Leading Caribbean Destination, Leading Caribbean Cruise Destination, and the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board. Sangster International Airport in Jamaica won the Caribbean’s Leading Air-port award. The Port of Falmouth received the trophy for Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Port, while the Port of Montego Bay took the award for the Caribbean’s Leading Home Port; the Historic Naval Dock-yard at Port Royal won the award for the Caribbean’s Leading Tourism Development Project. As 2021 brought a resurgence in tourism in the Caribbean, Montego Bay’s new hotel, Eclipse at Half Moon, won the award for the Leading New Hotel in the region. Jamaica’s Round Hill Hostel and Villas and GoldenEye in Jamaica also won travel awards: the Caribbean’s Leading Villa Resort and the Caribbean’s Leading Boutique Resort, respectively. The winners are selected after a year-long search for top tour-ism and hospitality brands via votes by travel industry professionals and the public.
PORT OF FALMOUTH WINS TWO MAJOR 2021 WORLD CRUISE AWARDS
The Port of Falmouth is the winner of two prestigious World Cruise Awards for 2021. At the inaugural staging of the World Cruise Awards, Falmouth was named the World’s Best Cruise Terminal in 2021, as well as the Caribbean’s Best Cruise Terminal. The awards recognize excellence in the cruise industry. The Port Authority of Jamaica, which is responsible for the management of the island’s cruise ports, stated that Falmouth has established the standard for cruise terminals in the Caribbean.
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