Hawai‘i Tourism Authority working with 2 local nonprofits to support visitor education on Hawai‘i Island

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, in partnership with the Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau, has engaged two community-based organizations to support visitor education efforts and mitigate tourism impacts in Punalu‘u and Kealakekua Bay.

This effort is a part of Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s newly launched Hawai‘i Island Community-Based Action Stewardship Program. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority is funding this community-driven approach to destination management as guided by its 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and Hawai‘i Island Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP)

“HTA continues to collaborate with Hawai‘i Island residents to better manage tourism’s impacts and support the initiatives they want to see and actively engage in for their communities, such as in Punalu‘u and Kealakekua Bay,” said Daniel Nāho‘opi‘i, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Interim President and CEO.

“Reinvesting in these nonprofit organizations to expand the work they are doing to protect, preserve and educate people about the culture, history and natural resources of these special places is our kuleana to the community and those who visit.” 


Ka ‘Ohana O Honu‘apo was selected for its “Ka‘ū Hoa Pili ‘Āina Training Program,” which will focus on training ten local stewards in Punalu‘u on the practices of mālama ‘āina built on the foundation of cultural practices and protocols, conservation and biological sciences, and place-based messaging about the Ka‘ū coastline.

The stewards will educate visitors about the area and assist with data collection. Ka ‘Ohana O Honu‘apo will also hire a Mālama ‘Āina Coordinator to oversee and organize the stewards’ training as guided by the Ka ‘Ohana O Honu‘apo Board of Directors and with support from other local non-profit organizations.

Ka ‘Ohana O Honu‘apo will also continue working cohesively with the local Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund which will handle HR management for the coordinator position. While this ʻāina-based education program will initially cover the fragile and highly visited coastline of Punaluʻu, the training will later be expanded to the greater Kaʻū coastline and ma uka into the forests and watersheds.


Ho‘āla Kealakekua Nui, Inc. was selected for its project, “Building ‘Āina-Based Stewardship Programs for Kealakekua Bay.” Ho‘āla Kealakekua Nui is an indigenous-led non-profit organization that has been actively building capacity to co-manage Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park and the surrounding community.

Through this project, Ho‘āla Kealakekua Nui aims to educate visitors, residents and commercial tour operators about the Kealakekua Bay Community Action Plan Code of Conduct developed by the community on how to respectfully interact within Kealakekua Bay; provide equipment to community volunteers actively restoring coastal habitat during Hana Lima workdays; and train citizen scientists to monitor the health of the area using a recently developed app called Kilokilo, customized for Kealakekua Bay.

“With the support of HTA and its emphasis on destination management, we are seeing more ways in which regenerative tourism on Hawai‘i Island is working through ‘āina- and placed-based community models,” said Rachel Kaiama, the Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau’s destination manager.


“These programs will further assist in our collaborative efforts to care for the natural and cultural resources of sacred places with resident-community stewards taking the lead for Punalu‘u and Kealakekua. Mahalo nui to our partners Ka ‘Ohana O Honu‘apo and Ho‘āla Kealakekua Nui, Inc.”

The Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau issued a Request for Proposals in July for ‘āina-based non-profit organizations on Hawai‘i Island to develop and manage community stewardship programs to educate visitors and protect natural and cultural resources in areas including Punalu‘u and Kealakekua Bay, as called for by residents in the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Hawai‘i Island DMAP. These areas have become especially popular with visitors, resulting in overcrowding, congestion, natural and cultural resource degradation, and safety hazards.

The Hawai‘i Island Community-Based Action Stewardship Program builds on the success of the Keaukaha Steward Pilot Program and Community Cultural-Based Education Program which launched in July. This effort, supported by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the County of Hawai‘i and the Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau, works to mitigate visitor impacts and protect natural resources at Waiuli (also known as Richardson Ocean Park) and Lehia Beach Parks.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments