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The Hawaiian Islands as a Sustainable Tourism Destination

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John Cusick, Assistant Specialist at the UHM Environmental Center, discusses the current unsustainability of Hawaii tourism, and presents examples from Hawaii and abroad of how that might be changed. Slides from the REIS seminar series at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on 2009-10-29.

Text of The Hawaiian Islands as a Sustainable Tourism Destination

  • 1.overview Tourism in Hawaii is inherently Unsustainable There are complex competing and cooperating interests among stakeholders that maintain an unsustainable status quo Approximately 500,000 monthly visitors in 2009 despite the economic recession (5 million Y-T-D) 2008 visitor expenditures of $11.4 billionSustainability framework allows for ecological restoration and cultural respect through place-based education and activities for residents and visitors Learning outcomes in Hawaii provide examples for other tourist destinations to improve sustainability

2. The global context: IUCN World Conservation Congress 2008The Congress theme a diverse and sustainable world was the basisfor developing a compelling vision. Innovative sustainable development initiatives are underway ingovernment, civil society and the private sector that are makinga difference and charting a new course for communities, nationsand planet. These efforts demonstrate that in many different settings and inmany different sectors, integrated and longer-term approaches torestoring, protecting and sustainably using natural assets canlead to new livelihood and economic opportunities with renewedenvironmental vitality. The challenge is how to scale-up and mainstream these encouraginginnovations and how to create the enabling conditions for moresustainable and equitable alternatives to flourish. 3. EnergyIslands ForestsMarineMarkets and BusinessWater Protected Areas MediterraneanSpeciesLaw and Governance Rights and ConservationBio-Cultural Diversity and Indigenous Peoples 4. Global Sustainable Tourism CriteriaDeveloped by UN agencies, tourism and environmental organizationsbasic guidelines to promote best practicesdirect travel agency and client attention to participating suppliersand destinationsencourage media to recognize sustainable tourism providershelp certification programs ensure that standards meet a broadly-accepted baselinecapacity building consultation and workshopsprovide guidelines for education 5. Sustainable tourism literature review of research prioritiesConsider current trends in economic, social, political andenvironmental conditions reform mass tourism models expand alternative forms of tourism and alternatives to tourism Link tourism and sustainability with wider environmental and societal trendsadaptation to global environmental changerestoration of degraded ecosystem servicescommunity resiliency and stewardship Now that sustainability is mainstream, enough rhetoric, time to putconcepts into practice and avoid greenwashing. 6. What is sustainable tourism and who is it for? Is it alternative tourism, i.e. ecotourism?Is it responsible, in terms of environmental stewardship,socio-cultural values, and best practices?Is it sustainability of tourism industry market share,communityeconomicdevelopment, and/orenvironmental conservation and restoration?Can mass tourism ever be sustainable? 7. Defining termsSustainable travel minimizes impacts on the environment and host cultures, furthers economic development goals of destination communities, and contributes to the conservation and/or restoration of biological diversity. It is responsible tourism that is both ecologically and culturally sensitiveEcotourism encompasses conservation-focused tourism and covers awide variety of experiences often a participatory experience inthe natural environment in support of conservation andcommunity economic developmentEcotravel promotes environmental conservation, internationalunderstanding and cooperation, political and economicempowerment of local residents, and cultural heritage 8. place of sustainable tourism/travel Rural and urban Core and periphery Intact and degraded habitats Natural and built environment Marine and terrestrialfunction of sustainable tourism/travelEnvironmental conservationCultural integritySocial equityEducationalProfitableimage of sustainable tourism/travelAuthenticAppropriate 9. Planning for Sustainable Tourism Report (DBEDT 2006) Vision for sustainable tourism Reflection of values (aloha, malama aina)Economic opportunity (fair wages, equity)Environmental protectionCultural respectReinforce tolerance of diversityNurture sense of place Are we on this path? 10. total annual visitors to the State of HawaiI 1995-2006(7.6 in 2007 and 6.8 million in 2008) 11. total annual visitors by island 12. STEP has collaborated with faculty, graduate and undergraduate students interested in developing and acting on sustainable solutions for the Hawaiian Islands.Current and proposed project sites include the Hawaiian Islands, Japan, Okinawa, Mongolia and China and address issues associated with protected areas, stakeholder conflicts, capacity building, poverty alleviation and others.Funding from UHM Center for International Business Education Research, VCRGE Manoa Fund, Sea Grant Collegehttp://www.hawaii.edu/envctr/ecotourism/ 13. Purpose and Design Engage tourism stakeholders in support of establishing the Hawaiian Islands as a model of sustainable best practicesFacilitate participant exploration, co-design, assessment and decision- making on long and short-range research goalsComposed of modules and exercises that participants performed in large and small groups 14. Facilitated roundtable discussion themes Communicating to tourists and residents on host culture issuesEvaluation of planning issues and regulatory obstacles to alternative forms of tourism, including volunteer tourism, educational tourism, community-based tourism, and alternative lodgingReview and proposal of curriculum at UHM and within UH system, including experiential learning approaches and internship opportunities, to bridge the ecological/sustainability literacy gap of residents and visitors through collaboration with governmental agencies and community organizationsIdentify resource management concerns/strategies as they relate toand/or involve commercial activities, particularly community-driven initiatives and protected areas, both public and private inmarine and terrestrial ecosystems 15. What works to create a sustainable tourism destination?healthy ecosystems and associated ecosystem services watershed protection + coastal restoration = recreation destinationsCultural integrity respectful engagement = reduced conflict and resentment Smart growth affordable housing + public health and safety = effective infrastructurefood security agricultural landscapes = keeps the country countryenergy independence alternative energy = minimizes economic leakage and cost of livingzero waste reduce, reuse, recycle = green labor force 16. How might sustainable tourism be measured and monitored? 17. Faculty and student research projects 2008-2009 assess potential of eco-lodging in Hawaii (MA 2009 NREM)scuba diving carrying capacity at Molokini (MA 2009 Geography)Kailua Bay offshore island recreational use (MA Geography)East Maui community-based tourism (EVS internship)Maunalua Bay recreation study (proposed EVS internship)Mongolia indigenous tourism (UHM grad candidate)Japan ecotourism conflicts (BA EVS and Peace St) 18. Sustainable Accommodation Models: An Evaluation of Certification CriteriaMelanie SaucierUHM Natural Resources and Environmental Management Problems Hotels are the most energy-intensive sector of tourism industry Hotels generally produce +1kg of waste per guest per day A hotel room uses on average 220 gal of water per day Rising criticism of existing tourism infrastructure & future plans for moredevelopment on Oahu Solutions Provide stakeholders with: A review of international guidelines & standards for sustainability A compilation of appropriate criteria for Hawaii An architectural rendering/model of an ecolodge A foundation for a certification program to measure sustainability 19. Social Carrying Capacity of SCUBA Diving on Molokini Bixler McClureUHM Geography DepartmentSocial Science field research techniques Conduct literature review on survey methods Distribute and collect surveys Enter and analyze data; draw conclusions Environmental Media Literature review for using image technology in environmental research Take pictures of divers/boats/snorkelers for use in surveys Test effectiveness of different image presentations Literature review of previous research Search for and analyze previous research on SCUBA/snorkeling/boating impacts Compare and contrast literature 20. Human Use of Offshore islets in Kailua Bay, Oahu Scott BurchUHM Geography Department How much use and who are the users?What are the impacts of use?Investigate relationship betweenIdentify educational contact pointsusers and contact points 21. Raising Awareness and Building Consensus for Tourism that Protects Maunalua Bay, OahuKey activities to be conducted as part of the proposed project:Identify current and potential recreation sites and create instruments to survey stakeholdersWork with Malama Maunalua to ensure compatibility of commercial and non-commercial activities with resource management and ecological restoration, and identify potential/likely hotspots of conflict between these interestsAssist stakeholder meetings to raise awareness, agree on standards, chart future tourism development and resource protection, and develop monitoring mechanisms involving UHM students 22. Maui case study 1970s Maui became a major tourism destinationSubject of a six page essay in Time magazine dubbing Maui Americas Magic IsleDramatic increases in resident and visitor populations1990s to 2008 Maui is regularly voted by Conde Nast Traveler readers as the best island destination in the Pacific 23. Community-based tourism in East Maui Kipahulu Ohana began as a project to create a living historyprogram to share with Haleakala National Park visitors in theearly 1970s.An example of community collaboration and co-management.The partnership enables residents to earn a living in their ownbackyard working in an area where jobs are scarce and landexpensive.The relations

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