Noni proves to be tourism remedy

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! UNIVERSAL CITY – Tahitian noni’s devotees believe it cures everything from lumbago to dysentery, but it’s also a multimillion dollar boost for the tourism industry. The lumpy tropical fruit and its products have brought more than 6,200 people to town as part of the International Tahitian Noni Conference, a five-day convention wrapping up tonight. Using the Gibson Amphitheatre and Universal CityWalk as its base, the confab will bring an estimated $5.3 million into local coffers. Based on native cures in Tahiti, the Philippines and Hawaii, it’s made into everything from lip balm to an antioxidant rich juice, used in equine medicine and endorsed by basketballer Chauncey Billups and actor Danny Glover. Hawked by an army of fervent salespeople, noni beverages, candies and skin-care products have sold over $3 billion worth of goods in the past 10 years. “It’s actually a fruit that grows wild in the Polynesian Islands,” said Shon Whitney, vice president of marketing communications for Provo, Utah-based Tahitian Noni International. “It’s not a real pretty fruit, but it’s been used for thousands of years as a really healthful product.” And now, a healthful boost for San Fernando Valley business, as well. LA Inc., the city’s convention and visitors bureau, spent the last year trying to attract more conferences to Valley locations, playing up enhancements at Universal Studios Hollywood and improved transportation. The juice extravaganza, which rented out the entire theme park Wednesday night for its conventioneers and will send them off with a Huey Lewis concert tonight, represents the first success in the campaign. According to LA Inc., it provided eight hotels from Glendale to Woodland Hills with 10,000 total room nights, occupied by visitors from 52 foreign countries. “This is a big chunk of people,” said Christopher Heywood, LA Inc.’s manager of corporate communications. “It’ll be a model for the future, where we’ll use it as a catalyst to build future business.” Tahitian Noni International, though committed to Las Vegas for its 2007 show, plans to return based on its experience this week, and word of the convention has already stirred up new business for local venues. “The Valley was sort of an island off by itself before,” said Jill Przelenski, the Gibson Amphitheatre’s director of special events. “The corporate market has bounced back. Just this week, I got a call from Herbalife, which hasn’t been here since 2002. When an event like this goes off well, the phones just start ringing.” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected]last_img

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