Our Place in Tourism vs. Tourism in Our Place


In many ways, the ideals of regenerative tourism are not new. Native Hawaiians have been nurturing regenerative systems in Hawaiʻi since the first voyage from Kahiki. The ahupuaʻa model of living systems stewardship and Hawaiian values like hoʻokaulike, mālama and aloha ʻāina are just a few that Native Hawaiians have applied and made actionable since time immemorial.

But no matter the context, Native Hawaiian culture remains key to a regenerative future – not just for tourism. We can all agree that better tourism remains a key ingredient toward such a future.

The communities that make up Hawaiʻi are extremely diverse; we aren’t always in alignment with what each of us believes our roles are. As kānaka, we may ask ourselves, “What should be our place in tourism?” With one such question, we negate our role altogether. The question we must ask instead is, “What is tourism’s role in our place and how do we achieve hoʻokaulike, true balance?”

The relationship between guest, host and place is of critical importance in the regenerative tourism model as host and place hold the most weight when combined together. The necessary shift in perspective prioritizes our place, our community, and our culture as a result.

Regenerative tourism, by definition, must conform to the realities of regenerative life itself – founded upon the unique, environmental system of aloha ʻāina. The land is what feeds us, nurtures us, and allows us to live in aloha with ourselves, with others, and in our relationships with nature and our surroundings.

Management is administrative and references the skill or process of decision-making over something, while stewardship recognizes the ability to act, to care of and for, and to be entrusted with the responsibility. Stewardship, specifically mālama, is a reciprocal relationship that has a shared interest for both the steward and that which is being stewarded. It is also one of the guiding principles behind regenerative tourism in Hawai’i.

Whatever paths may lie ahead, one thing is for sure – we are in charge of the lens through which the world views, understands, and loves Hawaiʻi.

We must be extremely vigilant in ensuring that how we present ourselves to the world is a true reflection of who we are at home. As we grow into betterment, so shall our ability to achieve something truly regenerative. While the beginnings of change are imminent, if not already in progress, the fruit of our labor will be enjoyed by our keiki and moʻopuna.

If we are to leave them with a better chance to be kānaka in our place and to inherit the Hawaiʻi we envision, we must consider our actions today as the foundation upon which they will thrive.

Please join us as we convene Ka Huina 2022 where we will explore these intersections and nexuses with invited members of our community and the visitor industry on June 8-9, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nahha.com.