Travel industry launches campaign touting health perks

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Ever uncork a bottle of red wine with the thought, "Besides, it's good for my heart," or cite antioxidants as a reason to indulge in dark chocolate? Then the U.S. travel industry has a campaign designed just for you.

The U.S. Travel Association, the industry's main lobbying group, is planning a multimillion-dollar campaign called "Travel Effect," with the goal of undertaking and promoting research that shows the benefits of traveling to people's health, relationships and communities, as well as to the economy.

The project hopes to find the kind of science-supports-desire research that has been a home run for other industries, such as the wine business.

"The first thing you think of when you think of red wine is, 'Oh, it's good for me,'" said Cathy Keefe, a U.S. Travel spokeswoman.

Travel, like wine, is a fun activity with supposed health benefits, Keefe said, and that's what the industry would like people to remember when considering a vacation or business trip.

"One of the ideas behind the campaign is to get consumers to think differently about travel," she said.

During the nationwide, multiyear effort, U.S. Travel intends to seek partners, such as AARP and academic institutions, to conduct research on various effects of travel. The success of the campaign may hinge on what sort of findings -- especially surprising ones -- the research generates.

"You don't need to persuade me that I need a vacation," said Peter Yesawich, vice chairman of MMGY Global, a Kansas City, Mo.-based travel-marketing firm. "They'd have to pick the right metrics; they have to pick the right behaviors."

For instance, telling people about his firm's research showing that a third of all leisure travelers say they have more sex while on vacation might clinch the deal, he said.