Hawaii Visitor Leaders Work With Local Nonprofits To Promote Responsible Tourism

KEANAE (HawaiiNewsNow) – Complaints about the overwhelming tourism led to the promise that the industry would find ways to deal with congestion and encourage visitors to be more respectful.

Maui Visitors Bureau is trying a new program, Malama Hawaii, which could do just that – and also help local nonprofits.

“They can redeem an incentive such as a free night or resort credit when they volunteer at one of our participating nonprofits,” said Maui Visitor Bureau Destination Manager Meagan DeGaia.

DeGaia says the goal of the program is to provide education and awareness so that visitors have a greater respect and understanding of the land.

“It provides the bridge between the visitors who come here and the kamaaina, the people who live here, the people who are the stewards of this land and who take care of this important place,” DeGaia said.

Na Mahiai O Keanae is one of the organizations supported in this effort.

It is a non-profit organization in Keanae that helps kalo farmers.

“No farmer can do it alone. We all need help. We therefore created the association to be able to help everyone and so that it is not a financial burden ”, Max Pichay, treasurer of Na Mahiai O Keanae.

Keanae is best known for being one of Hawaii’s premier taro farming communities.

The small peninsula of East Maui was inundated with visitors last summer and this has created tensions with some residents.

For Pichay, it was a wake-up call for better balance.

“We cannot survive without tourism. So your best bet is to make everyone understand each other because that’s the hard part, ”said Pichay.

DeGaia said Malama Hawaii has more than 90 participating partners statewide.

“It’s a great way for visitors to connect with the kamaaina and aina here and really give back and have a rich cultural experience doing a variety of things, whether it’s volunteering in farm animals or volunteer in law, ”DeGaia said.

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