The Polynesian Cultural Center offers a deeper understanding and appreciation not only of Hawaii, but all of Polynesia. // © 2013 Polynesian Cultural Center
What constitutes a legacy attraction? In Hawaii, legacy is intrinsically linked to the local culture, as exemplified by the recipients of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)’s 2013 Tourism Legacy Awards.
According to HTA president Mike McCartney, the Tourism Legacy Awards were established to pay tribute to individuals, organizations and businesses that create respectful and authentic visitor experiences while securing bonds between the tourism industry and the Hawaiian community.
“Their legacies celebrate our unique people, places and culture that make our destination unlike anywhere else in the world,” said McCartney.
HTA bestowed this year’s honors on Hilo Hattie, the Merrie Monarch Festival and Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) — all celebrating their 50th anniversaries in 2013 — and recognized them for their dedication to sustaining a legacy of aloha.
The spirit of aloha is alive and well at Hilo Hattie, a chain of seven island stores named after the singer and dancer who doubled as Hawaii’s Ambassador of Goodwill from the 1930s to the ‘60s. Today the colorful store attributes its success to its friendly employees, who carry on the entertainer’s tradition of practicing local hospitality. Dubbed “the Store of Hawaii,” Hilo Hattie is wildly popular with visitors looking to buy aloha wear, Hawaiian gifts, island edibles and other souvenirs during their tropical vacation.
Merrie Monarch Festival
The annual weeklong Merrie Monarch Festival honors Hawaii’s beloved 19th-century King David Kalakaua, a champion of Hawaiian arts and culture. While it’s tough to get tickets to its high-profile hula competition, thousands of visitors flock to Hilo on Hawaii Island for other Merrie Monarch events, including an arts and crafts fair, grand parade and dance shows. Proceeds from the celebration support educational scholarships, workshops, seminars and production costs for the festival itself.
Polynesian Cultural Center
The PCC preserves and shares the distinctive traditions not only of Hawaii, but all of Polynesia. Some 37 million travelers have visited the landmark on Oahu’s north shore, coming away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Polynesian people. It celebrates the differences and similarities of Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) through language, food, music, song, dance and hands-on activities.