Friday, February 21, 2003

Association to
promote ‘wellness’

The group wants to broaden the definition
of this visitor type beyond spa patrons

Star-Bulletin staff

A new professional association wants the world to think about more than spas and resorts when considering Hawaii as a wellness destination.

The Hawaii Wellness Tourism Association, founded recently by author Laura Crites, sees wellness tourism as a broader concept, one that includes people who come to Hawaii to help other people, as well as those who come here for sports, healing or relaxation.

Crites received $20,000 in state funding last year from the Hawaii Tourism Authority to write "The Call to Hawaii," a travelers' guidebook to a wellness-oriented vacation. Crites' book, co-authored with sister Betsy Crites, is to become available next month.

Tony Vericella, president and chief executive of the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, said the broader wellness concept ties in well with the core of the aloha spirit and local culture. The bureau has been working with Laura Crites for the past year.

Crites, who has a background in psychology and criminology, formerly served as executive director of the Family Peace Center, a domestic-abuse organization, as well as the Hawaii Women's Business Center.

The Hawaii Wellness Tourism Association said Hawaiian healers and values will play a prominent role in helping to distinguish Hawaii from other places. The association aims to reach out to tourists and locals.

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