HONOLULU, HI – Pacific Whale Foundation is excited to announce that we are one of only five tour operators on Maui to receive the Sustainable Tourism Certification for 2014-2016 from the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association.
Tourism represents the state of Hawai’i’s largest economic driver, with more than 8 million people visiting the islands each year. To meet these demands while also safeguarding Hawai’i’s cultural and natural resources, it is important to establish and promote sustainable practices within the tourism industry.
Since its inception 35 years ago, Pacific Whale Foundation has remained committed not only to educating the public about the ocean environment, but also ensuring that our operations are as environmentally friendly as possible. We work to reduce our overall environmental impact, and have been an industry leader when it comes to practices like pumping (and not dumping!) waste, replacing styrofoam containers with compostable products, and mooring our vessels at snorkel sites instead of dropping anchor on reefs.
A main component of Pacific Whale Foundation trips is also inspiring passengers to take an active role in protecting our oceans – be it through making lifestyle changes or joining one of our many ocean advocacy or volunteering campaigns.
We are proud that our education and conservation standards are being officially promoted through the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association’s newly revamped “Sustainable Tourism Certification Program”. Formed in 1994, the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association (HEA) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for ecotourism as a means to protect Hawai’i’s natural environment and native cultures. In 2011, HEA launched its ecotour certification program – the first of its kind in Hawai’i.
Ecotours that receive the Sustainable Tourism Certification must meet specific criteria, including:
• Provide a direct, personal experience of nature for customers;
• Employ environmentally sustainable practices to ensure that their activities do not degrade the environment;
• Maintain a written Sustainability Commitment Statement that guides operations and demonstrates a commitment to HEA Sustainable Tourism principles;
• Make ongoing, positive contributions to the community annually, both economically and in contributing to local conservation initiatives;
• Provide accurate interpretation of resources to guests during tour and ensure that staff are qualified and appropriately trained.