Hawai’i Association Initiates Ecotour Certification Program
By Wendy Osher
The Hawai’i Ecotourism Association will launch an Ecotour Certification Program in the state. The goal of the pilot program is to give visitors and residents more information when choosing an ecotour, ensuring the tour is right for them, good for the community and good for Hawaii’s environment.
Public discussion begins on Maui at the Pacific Whale Foundation Discovery Center in Maalaea on Tuesday, June 14th at 5:30 p.m., followed by a short presentation by an HEA board member and by Dr. Linda J. Cox, a Community Economic Development Specialist with the UH Cooperative Extension Service.
The Ecotour Certification program will begin with a limited number of operators being evaluated on criteria, and from these initial evaluations, the program will refine the certification process.
“We live in a unique place, like nowhere else in the world,” said Chris Colvin, president of the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association. “For that reason we felt that existing certification programs needed to progress, ensuring the sustainability of Hawaii’s dynamic mix of nature and culture. We needed a solution that would ultimately enhance the visitor experience,” said Colvin.
The Ecotour Certification Program marks the culmination of efforts between the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.
Similar public meeting will also be held on O’ahu, the Big Island, and Kaua’i. The meeting on Hawai’i Island is set for Thursday, June 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the NELHA Gateway Center in Kailua-Kona. Additional meetings will be announced at www.hawaiiecotourism.org.