Marketing Director of Made in Statia Taro Merkman at the produce market especially created for the Sustainability Conference.
ST. EUSTATIUS–Communication rather than just information is required from the local Tourist Board on St. Eustatius, according to participants in the Sustainability Conference that took place this week at the Lion’s Den. On the first day of the event, a panel discussion centred Thursday on the opportunities for promoting the island as a Caribbean wellness and health destination.
“In future, we shall include information on the various wellness resources on the island and include it in our master plan,” announced Tourism Director Charles Lindo.
Keynote speaker Sallie Fraenkel was quite direct in her advice. The island needs a marketing strategy to promote wellness and health, she said. Fraenkel is the founder of Mind Body Spirit Network and has many years of experience in the wellness tourism industry.
“Celebrity” honey on sale from local beekeeper Celford Gibbs (centre) and Gerda Gibbs (left).
“The island has so many great wellness and health assets to market such a concept. However, promoting such features is a bit like building a house. You start with laying the foundation with all stakeholders and create an audit of what you have and then move forward to build and promote the house. Clarity at home is essential.”
Conference participants were left in no doubt as to the wellness and health appeal of Statia. On the home front, Taro Merkman and Gershon Lopes were equally enthusiastic as to the opportunities for creating a unique and attractive market for healthy eating and living on the “Historical Gem.”
Merkman is the marketing director of locally grown produce that is branded “Made in Statia,” and Lopes is Unit Manager at the Department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.
In his presentation called “Growing Healthy Together,” Merkman emphasised the health-giving quality of locally grown produce that helps immunity to many diseases, including cancer and diabetes, as well as obesity.
Miss Brooks proudly displays her flowering plants on sale.
Lopes agreed. “Don’t let your medicine become your food but let your food become the medicine,” he told delegates. “The vegetables and produce that we import from the United States to Statia not only generate little energy but also have been grown with chemicals. However, on Statia, our local produce and meat are fresh, nutritious, tasty and health-giving,” he explained.