With people flocking to Hawaii again after more than a year of pandemic travel restrictions, some industry experts are calling for greener and more sustainable forms of tourism.
Crowded neighborhoods, highways and beaches have renewed calls for change in the tourism industry, Hawaii Public Radio reported on Wednesday.
Hawaii had a record 10.4 million visitors in 2019. Travel to the islands was almost non-existent for much of 2020 as coronavirus quarantine rules and travel restrictions were introduced. Now daily arrivals are rapidly approaching those seen before the pandemic.
John De Fries, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said caring for Hawaii’s communities and land should be an important part of the hospitality industry’s business model.
“If we are not clear about who we are, our responsibilities, our aina, our quays, our children and our communities – if we do not shape this into a new tourism model, we will not make it.” To compete successfully “Said De Fries,” and we will not be able to maintain the trust of our communities that this industry can actually be beneficial for our quality of life. “Aina means land in Hawaii and Kai means sea.
Pauline Sheldon, professor and former dean of the University of Hawaii’s School of Travel Industry Management, said “regenerative tourism” – a model she studied in Canada and New Zealand – could be a way forward.
“It is very important that we stop looking at tourism as an industry. It’s a system that is embedded in other living systems – food systems, health systems, medical systems, transportation systems, ”Sheldon said. “So if we look at it as a system that is connected to other networks, then we make a completely different difference in making decisions than if we only think of one industry.”
Tourism officials recently pushed a sustainable agenda in an advertising campaign called Malama Hawaii. Malama is a Hawaiian word and means to give back, cherish, preserve or protect.
Kainoa Daines, director of culture and product development for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, said some hotels are now offering incentives such as free nights or meals when tourists give back to the community.
That could mean working in a taro root bed or restoring a Hawaiian fish pond, Daines said, admitting that such activities are not for everyone.
“Once again, the message we convey through Malama, Hawaii invites our visitor to come to Hawaii. Join the community, help keep this place beautiful so that your grandchildren can come to visit and my grandchildren can live here in their home, ”said Daines.