Health and wellness seen as tourist draw

LIHU’E – The Hawai`i Women’s Business Center is launching a year-long project that’s focused on expanding the opportunities of health and wellness providers around the state, while helping healers increase their business skills, too.

Part of the effort is a seminar-“Developing Health and Wellness Tourism on Kaua`i “-this Friday at the Holiday Inn Sunspree from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Organizers said next month’s one-day seminar, entitled “Health and Wellness Tourism: Reaching the Customer Through the Internet”-is designed not only for healers with Web sites, but those who haven’t yet explored the selling of their skills via the computer.

The daylong workshop will help participants learn about the pros and cons of Internet marketing.

In 1999, according to Joan Levy, a Kaua`i-based therapist who’s helping develop a health and wellness tourism industry in the islands, the Hawai’i Tourism Authority identified that segment of tourism industry as part of its statewide strategic plan.

Along with business-development workshops like the one next Friday, the Hawai`i Women’s’ Business Center will compile a statewide health and wellness tourism resources directory. It’s slated to be published on-line and in hard copy.

Health and wellness specialists include far more than the healers working in hotel spas and resorts Levy said Kaua`i and the other islands have many specialists available to serve the needs of tourists. These include:

• Day-spa owners.

• Psychologists and social workers specializing in personal development.

• Nutritionists.

Acupuncturists.

• Fitness specialists and Chinese medicine practitioners.

“The niche market of health and wellness tourism is a natural for Hawai`i,” said Levy, founder of Kauai’s Association of the Healing Arts. It can increase its marketshare “by reaching deeper into what it is that Hawai`i intrinsically has to offer. By doing so, we revitalize our economy without having to compromise the spirit of Hawaii’s people and place.” Additional information about health and wellness tourism is available from Healing Arts Resources Kaua`i at 822-5488 or 822-5231; Laura Crites, executive director of Hawai’i Womens Business Center, at (808) 522-8136; and Randy or Clara Gingrich at the Small Business Development Center at 246-1748.

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