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Hawaii Ecotourism Association Recertifies Six Big Island Tour Operators

The Hawaii Ecotourism Association has certified more than 45 Hawai‘i tour operators—including six on Hawai‘i Island—and also awarded the 2017 Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year to Trilogy Excursions on Maui on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.

The HEA developed Hawai‘i’s only ecotourism certification program to help educate tour operators on the importance of using natural cultural resources, promote sustainable practices and raise awareness among visitors, residents and businesses in Hawai‘i.

“We’ve built sustainability into our tours; giving back to the community and preserving our environment have been an important part of our company and how we operate for over 45 years,” said LiAnne Driessen, director of marketing, sales and media relations at Trilogy Excursions.

In addition to awarding Trilogy Excursions on Maui as the 2017 Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year (see below), HEA also recognized newly certified and recertified operators.

Newly Certified Sustainable Tour Operators

Holokino Hawaii Tours (O‘ahu)

Recertified Sustainable Tour Operators

HAWAI‘I ISLAND
Fair Wind Cruises
Hawaii Forest & Trail
Kohala Zipline
KapohoKine Adventures
Hawaiian Legacy Tours
Atlantis Adventures

OTHER ISLANDS
Atlantis Adventures (Maui, O‘ahu)
Holokai Snorkel and Kayak Adventure (O‘ahu)
Maui Kayak Adventures (Maui)
Hawaiian Paddle Sports (Maui)
Pacific Whale Foundation (Maui)
Kualoa Ranch (O‘ahu)
Pacific Islands Institute (O‘ahu)
Kailua Beach Adventures (O‘ahu)

Pending Final Evaluation – Certified Sustainable Tour Operators
Hoku Hawaii Tours (O‘ahu)
Coral Crater Adventure Park (O‘ahu)

Trilogy Excursions, which runs sailing, snorkel and whale watching tours on Maui, received the award for its ongoing efforts in supporting the principles of sustainable tourism and promoting practices and programs that enhance the local community and environment.

Some of these practices include:

  • Becoming the first company to retrofit its vessels to pump out waste at onshore facilities [instead of in the open ocean]
  • Launching the successful Blue ‘Aina Reef Cleanup Campaign. Since its inception in 2010, the Blue ‘Aina program has conducted 123 reef cleanups along Maui’s coastline, educated the public, and supported numerous ocean-based nonprofits
  • Converting Trilogy V to run completely on biodiesel
  • Undertaking extensive staff trainings and ongoing staff development to ensure high-quality and accurate tours
  • Supporting environmental initiatives that include the elimination of single-use plastics on all vessels, outfitting all vessels with reef friendly sunscreen, and supporting the establishment and ongoing maintenance of a day-use mooring system on Maui.

“We congratulate and applaud Trilogy Excursions on their commitment to providing sustainable tours to better serve our tourism industry,” said Aaron J. Lowe, president of HEA.

 

To be considered for the Sustainable Tour Operator certification, companies are assessed based on the following requirements:

Step 1: Self-Evaluation: Applications must complete and submit a self-assessment checklist, which evaluates their operating principles. Submissions include an administration fee of $200 and supporting document for review.
Step 2: Third Party Evaluation: An HEA evaluator contacts the applicant to review the checklist and schedule an in-person evaluation. The evaluator participates in a tour to verify components of the self-assessment checklist, and rates the applicant on various operating principles.
Step 3: Reporting & Certification: The HEA evaluator submit their findings and all supporting documents to HEA for final approval. If certified, HEA award certification status, and tour operators are recognized at the HEA Annual Luncheon.

About Hawaii Ecotourism Association
Since 1994, HEA has been committed to helping better Hawaii’s travel industry through promoting responsible ecotourism travel and educational tours to conserving the natural and cultural resources in Hawaii. HEA is composed of tour and lodging operators, travel writers, and community organizations. For more information, visit www.hawaiiecotourism.org.

Hawaii Ecotourism Association Announces Winners of Sustainable Tourism Awards

Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA) announced the winners of sustainable tourism awards at a luncheon today in Waikiki. Twenty-three tour operators were certified as sustainable tour operators by HEA, a local nonprofit organization that protects Hawaii’s unique natural environment and host culture by promoting responsible travel.

Valley Isle Excursions, a company known providing luxury and eco-friendly tours to Hana and the road beyond, was awarded with the coveted the 2016 Sustainable Tour Operator Award. “This outstanding example of a sustainable tour operation far exceeds HEA’s mission and goal of protecting the unique natural and cultural resources of Hawaii nei,” said Aaron Lowe, President of HEA’s Board of Directors.

The 2016 Ecotour Guides of the Year were announced as follows: From Oahu – Manly Kanoa of Hokupaa and Andrew Puchalski of Kailua Beach Adventures; from Kauai – Abraham Frehm of Na Pali Experience, from Maui – Rowdy Lindsey of Hawaiian Paddle Sports and Curtis Geary of Maui Kayak Adventures; from Hawaii – Ben Catcho Jr. of KapohoKine Adventures and Richard Lindberg of Hawaiian Legacy Tours. Guides make each tour guest feel connected to Hawaii’s natural resources and Hawaiian culture. HEA is delighted to recognize the contribution of the award winners.

The Travel Writer of the Year was awarded to Shannon Wianecki. She is a prolific freelance writer who shares the natural and cultural history of the Hawaiian Islands with the readers of local and international travel magazines and books.

Pro Surfer Jamie O'Brien is sponsored by Body Glove.

Pro Surfer Jamie O’Brien is sponsored by Body Glove.

The twenty-three tour operators were awarded HEA’s Sustainable Tourism Certification for 2016-2018. They include: Under the Sea Hawaii, Hopkupaa, Dolphins and You, and Ocean Joy Cruises on Oahu; Kipu Ranch Adventures, Holo Holo Charters, and Na Pali Experience on Kauai; Aloha Kayaks Maui, Maui Nei Native Expeditions, Haleakala Bike Company, Temptation Tours, Maui Dreams Dive Company, Valley Isle Excursions, Maui Ocean Center, Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Maui Surf Lessons, and Hawaii Mermaid Adventures on Maui; and Body Glove Cruises, Mauka Makai Adventures, Essential Hawaii Tours, Kona Honu Divers, Sea Quest Hawaii, and Kohala Ziplines on Hawaii.

“As a founding member of the organization, I am excited that the number of certified operators across the State more than doubled since the 2014-2016 certifications were awarded,” said Annette Kaohelaulii, HEA Board Treasurer.

IUCN recognized HEA’s Sustainable Tourism Certification Program in the tours organized especially for this event, which just ended. The Hawaii Tourism Authority also supports HEA efforts to educate commercial tour operators and community stakeholders on best management practices for the use of natural and cultural resources. HEA’s Certification Program is only one of two statewide programs in the U.S. providing a third party, comprehensive assessment of tour providers whose operations positively affect the State’s natural and cultural resources, contribute to conservation and help sustain local communities.