HTA’s Destination Management Action Plan supports Kapalilua Kia‘i ‘Āina Stewardship Program

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HONOLULU (HI Now) - The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) is proud to share the story of the Kapalilua Kiaʻi ʻĀina Stewardship program. This program is a partnership with Hawaiʻi County and Conservation International and was co-created with communities to conduct and support data collection at four hotspot areas, one of which is Hōnaunau Bay on Hawaiʻi Island.

“As the visitor industry and Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority are all in a time of huliau (transformative change), there is an accelerated shift towards destination management and how we can support actionable programs that reflect regenerative tourism. It’s essential the people and place are prioritized as we continue to work with partners toward educating the visitor and bringing awareness of appropriate behavior at this wahi pana (legendary place),” says HTA President and CEO John De Fries.

There is an incredible opportunity for tourism to be better managed so that both residents and the destination can thrive. This is the goal of each county’s Destination Management Action Plan to identify areas of need, in this case inform visitors of the correct name of the place they’re visiting – Hōnaunau Bay – not its nickname, and appropriate, respectful behavior at the bay.

The Kapalilua Kiaʻi ʻĀina Stewardship program at Hōnaunau Bay believes the ʻāina (land) is the author and architect for the narrative of the resource management that’s occurring at this place. The ʻāina (land) guides the lineal descendants to develop the visitor outreach and engagement for their wahi pana (legendary place), passing on their personal knowledge, while the community shares and continues their life’s way.

In addition to data collection and tracking the approximately 1,000 people on average who visit the bay, the stewards also educate visitors about the difference between the lava rock and the living coral and reef system. This marine ecosystem provides life to the bay and from which the resident community harvests from and depends on to subsist.

HTA’s support with community-driven programs such as these is to bring more attention to the cultural practitioners who provide cultural and heritage management in the hopes it can be replicated in other areas. It prioritizes the people and place while working with the different partners toward educating the visitors, bringing awareness of appropriate behavior, and how to respect the ʻāina (land).

To learn more about each island’s Destination Management Action Plan, visit