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With the goal of encouraging more green tourism statewide, the Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA) announced that 14 companies have earned the distinction of being Hawaii’s first-ever Certified Ecotour Operators.
“We applaud these 14 ecotourism companies for their commitment to environmental sustainability and urge other tourism providers throughout Hawaii to follow their lead,” said Chris Colvin, HEA president.
HEA developed the ecotourism certification program to help educate commercial tour operators on the responsible use of natural and cultural resources, support conservation and sustainability practices and raise awareness among visitors.
“The purpose of certification is to support, promote, educate and strengthen on-the-ground tourism practices with respect to honoring and caring for our natural and cultural resources, resulting in better resource conservation, higher visitor satisfaction and more community support for the visitor industry,” Colvin said.
Winners in the Gold category were Atlantis Adventures (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii), Trilogy Excursions (Maui) and Volcano Discovery (Maui).
Silver category honorees were Hawaiian Paddle Sports (Maui), Hike Maui (Maui), Jack’s Diving Locker (Big Island), Kayak Kauai (Kauai), Kualoa Ranch (Oahu), Pacific Islands Institute (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Molokai), Pacific Whale Foundation (Maui) and Wild Side Specialty Tours (Oahu).
In the Bronze category, nods went to Annette’s Adventures (Oahu), Bike Hawaii (Oahu) and Hawaii Forest and Trail (Big Island).
HEA presented each honoree with an official seal of certification that can be publicly displayed at their place of business, on their website and in their marketing materials to show proof of their commitment to sustainability and support for Hawaii’s environment.
Honorees were determined by a scoring system evaluating their ecotourism operations and principles. Gold honorees are certified for a three-year period. Silver and Bronze honorees can make adjustments to their operations and reapply next year for Gold status.