Mind Body Spirit Network Founder and President Sallie Fraenkel.
ST. EUSTATIUS–Embracing Environmental Health and Wellness is the theme of the Statia Sustainability Conference at the Lions’ Den that began earlier this week.
Keynote speaker Sallie Fraenkel said the wellness economy is a US $3.7 trillion industry of which the tourism sector represents a growing market. Fraenkel said 6.5 per cent of vacationers are motivated towards a wellness destination where they can enjoy hikes, nature as well as mind and body pursuits.
Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco (centre, right), conference keynote speaker Sallie Fraenkel (second right) and the other members at the conference.
“Statia has all the natural and fascinating assets to tap into this fascinating and growing market. Interestingly enough, post-war baby-boomers are leading this trend. They are still booming and living longer and wanting a healthier lifestyle. Seventy per cent of deaths are generally related to bad lifestyle choices. Statia is a beautiful island and an antidote. It has wonderful scenery, freshly grown produce, fine hotel accommodation, clear blue waters and a marvellous tranquillity,” she said.
Asked by a participant what more the island can do to attract such tourists, Fraenkel replied that stakeholders should meet and brainstorm to put it all together before the tourist board puts it across.
In opening remarks, Government Commissioner Marcolino Franco said, “As I look at this year’s theme ‘Embracing Environmental Health and Wellness’ it deals with very important and current topics on our island environmental health and wellness. Our strong resolve as Statians has always made us who we are. Childhood obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, just to name a few, remain major concerns within our community.”
It has been proven, Franco said, that poor eating habits have been identified as one of the primary factors of obesity and, by extension, heart disease and many other coronary and kidney ailments. Government has made great strides towards creating sustainable food production through programmes such as “Made in Statia,” the current hydroponic greenhouses, “Statia get in Shape,” etc., Franco added. This coupled with a great recycling programme goes both ways in creating sustainability of these programmes.
“I was pleased to know that our local recycling programme and Saba were able to join forces in order to combat a common problem on both Islands in terms of waste management. Because of our regional and historic ties, our problems on the Island are similar in nature. Through the lending of technical expertise in-house and sharing of best practices, the solutions to these problems can be found very close to home. This goes ways in creating sustainability,” Franco said.
Second chance education programme students at the sustainability conference.
He also spoke about trade in the local provision of produce and export of fresh goat and cow meat to the sister islands, especially St. Kitts and Nevis, that occurred in the past. Strengthening Statia’s ties and collaboration with the sister islands goes a long way in developing food security and is in itself conducive to sustainability in terms of environmental health and wellness, Franco added.
“In order to embrace environmental health and wellness one must first realise that there is a cost to inaction. We must join hands in our effort to combat infectious diseases and poverty. In an age where infectious and terminal diseases are rampant, embracing environmental health and wellness is now necessary, more than ever before,” he said.
He closed off by saying that everyone should continue pressing forward for the future generations.
Tourism Director Charles Lindo was also present, officially opened the event and delivered the welcome speech.