HTA to put $55K into health tourism

HONOLULU -- The Hawaii Tourism Authority will invest $55,000 over the next six months to develop a plan to make Hawaii a premier health and wellness destination.

The state already draws visitors seeking a place to rest and rejuvenate with spa treatments and outdoor activities.

But industry leaders hope to add significant components, such as education in disease prevention and insight into traditional healing practices, in an effort to welcome travelers who want more than the typical vacation.

"The mission is to cultivate strategies for health tourism that bring Hawaii to the forefront of this unique industry," said Dr. Ira Zunin, a Honolulu physician.

Zunin is creating a business plan to "make certain there's a match between what we're marketing and our infrastructure," according to Muriel Anderson, who guides product development for the tourism authority.

Hawaii's leaders hope to capitalize on the strengths of the islands. These include the relative ease and safety they offer travelers as part of the U.S. along with their strong cultural ties to Asia and the Pacific.

Dr. Ed Cadman, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, foresees medical students, residents and faculty speaking at hotels about disease prevention and complementary and alternative medicine.

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