As Covid restrictions begin to ease across the country, domestic and international travel is slowly starting to pick up and tropical destinations like Hawaii are becoming increasingly popular among travelers. However, post-Covid travel can look a little different, spawning a new kind of traveler. After more than a year in quarantine, travelers are looking for more meaningful travel experiences where they can give back, something the New York Times called “regenerative journey”. Conscious travel is the new sustainable tourism. It is the art of being present and immersed in an experience in addition to leaving a positive impact.
As a member of Safe Travel Program, Hawaii has implemented strict Covid guidelines for visitors, including a requirement for pre-travel testing. Yet the islands have cautiously greeted an influx of tourists while simultaneously launching an initiative called Malama Hawaii, a volunteer program to encourage travelers to get to malama – or “give back” – to Hawaii and leave the islands better than they found them. In return, visitors can earn free hotel nights or discounts on hotel stays, including at five-star resorts.
What is Malama Hawaii?
Malama Hawaii is a statewide program run by the Hawaii Convention and Visitors Bureau (HVCB) in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). Inspired by the Hawaiian word malama, which means “take care” or “give back,” the program aims to encourage travelers to experience Hawaii beyond its natural beauty and deep-rooted culture.
Some participating partner hotels on each island are working with local non-profit organizations to deliver activities such as beach clean-ups through organizations such as the Pacific Whale Foundation or tree planting at Gunstock Ranch in partnership with the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative (HLRI). Visitors who book a Malama Hawaii package can earn a free hotel night or other special discount in return.
“The goal of the Mālama Hawaii initiative is not only to help protect and preserve Hawaii for the future, but to provide travelers with a more meaningful and rewarding travel experience, allowing them to bond more. profound with our people, our culture and our place, ”said John Monahan, President and CEO of HVCB.
How to take advantage of the Malama Hawaii promotion
Malama packages can be booked directly through individual hotel websites or by calling each hotel concierge. Some volunteer activities are self-guided and others are carried out by local organizations on the ground. A full list of participating hotels, broken down by island, can be viewed here.
Note: Prices shown are subject to change based on hotel room type and availability.
Notable hotels participating in the Malama program
Malama Program: Maui
The luxurious Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea in partnership with Lahaina Restoration Foundation invites guests to learn about Maui’s history and culture by documenting and transcribing historical artifacts from all eras of Maui’s past, including the Kingdom of Hawaii, missionary, whaling, and sugar mill periods. The three-hour experience includes a brief training session, working with historical artifacts, and a visit to a historic site or museum customized for the client’s interest.
In exchange for their participation, guests will receive a $ 250 resort credit to be applied to their stay and a gift certificate for one night of luxury accommodation in an ocean view room for a future stay at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea. Resort guests who wish to participate in the Malama Hawaii program can contact the concierge at Four Seasons Resort Maui for more information (promotion is not listed on their website).
“The concept of malama, or ‘taking care of’, is part of the essence of life in Hawaii, connecting us to this place and our ancestors,” said Shermaine Rodrigues, Director of Guest Experience at Four Seasons Maui Resort. “At Four Seasons Maui, we have the kuleana, or responsibility, to share this concept with our guests and invite them to actively engage in these cultural ideals. Many of our guests took the opportunity to give back. Now more than ever, regenerative travel resonates with visitors, ”she said.
Further west, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is offering guests a fifth night free by participating in a solo beach clean-up (offer valid through September 30, 2021). You can book the package directly online or by calling the resort and will receive a beach cleaning kit on arrival. Although proof of cleaning is not required, it is based on the honor system.
Malama Program: The Big Island
The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii on the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island) is offering a fourth night free with breakfast for two when you book their Malama Package. Guests can choose from one of three volunteer opportunities offered by the hotel’s designated partners, including a visit to Waikōloa Dry Forest Reserve to help restore native forest or a solo beach cleanup.
The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa also offers one free night during your stay when you participate in a group beach or cultural site cleanup. Each of the cleanings involves up to 10 people and is followed by refreshments that you can enjoy as you stroll by the ocean.
Malama Program: Oahu
In Oahu, The Kahala Hotel & Resort is offering 20% off a three-night stay for guests who participate in an activity of their choice offered by Travel2Change and KISCA (Kahala Initiative for Sustainability, Culture and the Arts), including beach clean-up after kayaking or paddleboarding, a guided hike to learn more about coastal dining, or a food tasting at a sustainable farm.
Several hotels including The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, Sheraton Waikiki, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Moana Surfrider, The Royal Hawaiian and The Laylow, Autograph Collection are also offering guests the opportunity to support reforestation efforts and plant an endemic tree at Gunstock Ranch on the north coast of Oahu in partnership with the Hawaiian Heritage Reforestation Initiative (HLRI).
“For me, the forest here at Gunstock Ranch has impacted myself and a lot of other people who have been there because of its spiritual aspect and the aspect of being able to give back to the land,” he said. said McKenzie Highsmith, trail manager at Gunstock Ranch. “It’s something that I believe will have a positive impact on the world and in particular on our small island. It gives people the opportunity to do something good. And a lot of people need it in their lives.
How to be a respectful tourist
While the travel industry in Hawaii has not fully recovered from Covid, it is slowly but steadily returning to normal. According to Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, the number of visitors entering Hawaii on May 1 was just under 23,000, down 28.6% from 2019. But on June 10, the number of tourists entering Hawaii reached 30,000, down 15% compared to 2019.
As travelers start to overtake Hawaiian beaches and other local sites again, many residents are starting to back down. According to a report by The Guardian, locals are concerned about the impact of trespassers on beaches, marine life and the island’s overall capacity.
Whether you are planning to travel to Hawaii as part of the Malama Program or otherwise, there are several things you can do to make sure you are a respectful visitor:
- Do not throw trash: Talk to KHON2, Speaking for the Hawaiian Ocean Director Kahi Pacarro said there had been a “drastic decrease in litter” on beaches during the pandemic when travel was limited. If you are visiting Hawaii, be sure to dispose of trash properly and avoid using single-use plastics whenever possible, as they can end up in the ocean.
- Use sunscreens that are safe for reefs: In January 2021, Hawaii officially prohibits the sale and the distribution of sunscreens containing two chemicals that can harm coral: oxybenzone and octinoxate. Technically, you can bring any sunscreen with you when you travel, but sunscreens containing these ingredients can help. coral bleaching, which stresses it out and can shorten its lifespan.
- Be careful around the coral: According to Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources, popular tourist activities like snorkeling and scuba diving contribute to the deterioration of coral reefs, especially when people walk and touch coral or litter in and around the ocean. If you choose to participate in recreational activities at sea, be respectful of marine life and don’t break a piece of coral to take home as a souvenir.
- Treat residents with respect: As you travel – in Hawaii and around the world – remember that you are a guest intruding on someone else’s space. When you visit local restaurants and shops and take in the scenic nature, be gracious and gracious and leave it as you found it.
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