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. …

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.

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  • 1. overview Tourism in Hawai‘i 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 billion Sustainability framework allows for ecological restoration and cultural respect through place-based education and activities for residents and visitors Learning outcomes in Hawai‘i provide examples for other tourist destinations to improve sustainability
  • 2. The global context: IUCN World Conservation Congress 2008 The Congress theme “a diverse and sustainable world” was the basis for developing a compelling vision. Innovative sustainable development initiatives are underway in government, civil society and the private sector that are making a difference and charting a new course for communities, nations and planet. These efforts demonstrate that in many different settings and in many different sectors, integrated and longer-term approaches to restoring, protecting and sustainably using natural assets can lead to new livelihood and economic opportunities with renewed environmental vitality. The challenge is how to scale-up and mainstream these encouraging innovations and how to create the enabling conditions for more sustainable and equitable alternatives to flourish.
  • 3. Energy Islands Forests Marine Markets and Business Water Protected Areas Mediterranean Species Law and Governance Rights and Conservation Bio-Cultural Diversity and Indigenous Peoples
  • 4. Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria Developed by UN agencies, tourism and environmental organizations basic guidelines to promote best practices direct travel agency and client attention to participating suppliers and destinations encourage media to recognize sustainable tourism providers help certification programs ensure that standards meet a broadly- accepted baseline capacity building consultation and workshops provide guidelines for education
  • 5. Sustainable tourism literature review of research priorities Consider current trends in economic, social, political and environmental conditions reform mass tourism models expand alternative forms of tourism and alternatives to tourism Link tourism and sustainability with wider environmental and societal trends adaptation to global environmental change restoration of degraded ecosystem services community resiliency and stewardship Now that sustainability is mainstream, enough rhetoric, time to put concepts 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, community economic development, and/or environmental conservation and restoration? Can mass tourism ever be sustainable?
  • 7. Defining terms Sustainable 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 sensitive Ecotourism encompasses conservation-focused tourism and covers a wide variety of experiences – often a participatory experience in the natural environment in support of conservation and community economic development Ecotravel promotes environmental conservation, international understanding and cooperation, political and economic empowerment 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 terrestrial function of sustainable tourism/travel Environmental conservation Cultural integrity Social equity Educational Profitable image of sustainable tourism/travel Authentic Appropriate
  • 9. Planning for Sustainable Tourism Report (DBEDT 2006) Vision for sustainable tourism Reflection of values (aloha, malama ‘aina) Economic opportunity (fair wages, equity) Environmental protection Cultural respect Reinforce tolerance of diversity Nurture sense of place Are we on this path?
  • 10. total annual visitors to the State of Hawai‘I 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 College http://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 practices Facilitate participant exploration, co-design, assessment and decision- making on long and short-range research goals Composed 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 issues Evaluation of planning issues and regulatory obstacles to alternative forms of tourism, including volunteer tourism, educational tourism, community-based tourism, and alternative lodging Review 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 organizations Identify resource management concerns/strategies as they relate to and/or involve commercial activities, particularly community- driven initiatives and protected areas, both public and private in marine and terrestrial ecosystems
  • 15. What works to create a sustainable tourism destination? healthy ecosystems and associated ecosystem services watershed protection + coastal restoration = recreation destinations Cultural integrity respectful engagement = reduced conflict and resentment Smart growth affordable housing + public health and safety = effective infrastructure food security agricultural landscapes = keeps the country country energy independence alternative energy = minimizes economic leakage and cost of living zero 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 Hawai‘i (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 Criteria Melanie Saucier UHM 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 more development on Oahu Solutions Provide stakeholders with: A review of international guidelines & standards for sustainability A compilation of appropriate criteria for Hawai‘i 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 McClure UHM Geography Department Social 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 Burch UHM Geography Department How much use and who are the users? What are the impacts of use? Investigate relationship between Identify educational contact points users and contact points
  • 21. Raising Awareness and Building Consensus for Tourism that Protects Maunalua Bay, Oahu Key activities to be conducted as part of the proposed project: Identify current and potential recreation sites and create instruments to survey stakeholders Work 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 interests Assist 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 destination Subject of a six page essay in Time magazine dubbing Maui America’s Magic Isle Dramatic increases in resident and visitor populations 1990s 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 history program to share with Haleakala National Park visitors in the early 1970s. An example of community collaboration and co-management. The partnership enables residents to “earn a living in their own backyard” working in an area where jobs are scarce and land expensive. The relationship engages residents with research and recreation stakeholders, and despite periods of animosity and antagonism, the protected area status of Kipahulu District is considered an asset that distinguishes East Maui from other cultural landscapes in the Hawaiian Islands. Residents are reconstituting the identity of Kipahulu as a Hawaiian place with benefits to various stakeholders. Protected area status perpetuates a perception of significance that dates back centuries.
  • 24. Kapahu Living Farm, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park
  • 25. Sustainable Community Development on Southern Islands of Japan Yukari Akastuka UHM Environmental Studies, Peace Studies Problem statement Tourism dependent economies and environment degradation due to mass tourism conflicts with local needs. Purpose Identify common interests among stakeholders the role of protected areas and propose win-win situation for currently competing interests. Research question How do different stakeholders perceive the significance of protected areas? Proposed outcomes Development of island sustainability and environment education for island youth.
  • 26. Iriomote, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
  • 27. Comparison of Tourism Resources in Yakushima and East Maui Yakushima East Maui Flight time from international 1 hour from :15 minutes from Kahului airport Kagoshima Airport Airport 1 hour from Honolulu Airport Domestic airport Yakushima Hana Airport Airport Journey easy and comfortable yes yes Observation of biodiversity high high Distinctive features of interest yes yes Additional cultural interests yes yes Unique appeal yes yes Water recreation sites yes yes Scenic setting yes yes Good food available yes yes Varied accommodations available yes yes Existing tourist itinerary circuit developing yes
  • 28. Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism in Lake Hovsgol Province, Mongolia: Capacity Building Workshops for Stakeholders Odonchimeg Ichinkhorloo UHM graduate candidate Goal: To promote sustainable tourism development through strengthening local and regional stakeholders’ capacity to network and facilitate collaboration between private and public sectors. Rationale: The challenges for government, the tourism industry and communities are to effectively balance environmental conservation and economic development. Tourism represents a growing level of economic activity and rapid increases in the number of visitors threaten biological diversity and perpetuation of indigenous cultures. Primary objectives concentrate on three key areas: Discuss current challenges and issues within the region Identify future opportunities to achieve successful outcomes Establish priorities among stakeholders
  • 29. Ecotourism in China Li Yan-qin Central University for Nationalities, Beijing, China 2009 named “Chinese Ecotourism Year” “be a green traveler and experience eco-civilization” promotion of eco-tourism and the concept of sustainable travel direct tourism toward green alternatives through sustainable development goals. Profile of ecotourists in China Age: 18 - 34 years old, younger than mass tourists Gender: male more than female Education: college graduates(60%) Expenditure: willing to spend more than mass tourists and have disposable income Note: Gov. Lingle leaves for China tomorrow for two week promotional trip
  • 30. STEP research agenda in support of island sustainability What are the roles of protected areas in the context of resident, research, and recreation interests and activities? How do they inform future research, instruction and outreach? Contribute to sustainability literacy at UHM Investigate alternative forms of tourism voluntourism, educational tourism, agtourism, place- based tourism Support internship opportunities and international education and exchanges
  • 31. STEP outcomes Stakeholder conferences April and October 2009 Faculty and graduate student mentoring and involvement of undergrads on research projects Project website with resources for stakeholders to access Peer reviewed publications Conference presentations and posters Contributing to UHM as a center for sustainability in partnership with East-West Center, Center for Responsible Travel, University of the Ryukyus, Hokkaido University, The International Ecotourism Society, UNESCO, World Heritage Centre
  • 32. Can tourism in Hawai‘i be sustainable … or will it be greenwashed? thank you