Hawaii to take healthy look at wellness

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

The state already draws visitors seeking a place to rest and rejuvenate themselves with spa treatments, healthy outdoor activities and the "aloha spirit."

But industry leaders hope to add bolster existing options with educational programs about disease prevention and traditional healing practices in an effort to welcome travelers who want more than the typical vacation.

In other developments, the number of visitors coming to Hawaii dropped 7.4% in May compared with the same month last year, according to a report from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The department said the decline was largely the result of a 28.6% decrease in international arrivals.

Visitors, however, stayed a bit longer, increasing the number of days spent in Hawaii by 0.1%.

Consistent with recent trends, domestic arrivals grew 1.7% over year-ago levels.

Maui and Molokai enjoyed increases in visitor arrivals, while Lanai's, Oahu's and Kauai's numbers fell. Preliminary hotel occupancy numbers dipped to 64.7% compared with 66% in May 2002, while average daily room rates rose to $135.46, up from $131.96 in the same period last year, according to a survey conducted by Hospitality Advisors.

Seven cruise ships toured the Islands in May. They carried 28,144 passengers, 11.9% more than during May 2002.

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