Environmental education policy for the Hawaii tourism industry

Environmental education policy for the Hawaii tourism industry

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Ho'ohila Kawelo started this petition to Hawaii State Senate and

Hawaii's tourism industry is the leading economic power within our islands. Hawaii is extremely reliant on the exploration of our natural beauties and resources to bring a source of income to our islands. Unfortunately, our natural resources are exploited unsustainably and, as a result, Hawaii is the invasive species and endangered species capital of the world, meaning that we have the most unwanted species established in our islands and also the most fragile system of native species. The range of outdoor activities provided by the tourism industry can often be and have been detrimental to Hawaii’s natural environment. Tour operations are often unaware of the impact that they have on Hawaii's unique ecosystem and therefore do not educate tourists on the reality of Hawaii's environment, which they view only as a thriving tropical paradise, not one that is in peril. Growing up in Hawaii, I have seen the rise of tourism and its effect on the environment. Many of the trails I used to hike on frequently as a child have become overrun by tourists, who, for the most part, are unaware of how susceptible Hawaii's native ecosystem really is as no one strives to teach them. Through this petition, I propose to strengthen the ties between tourism and Hawaii's environment, more specifically those that work towards its conservation by encouraging the implementation of an educational policy for tour guides involved in assisting tourists in exploring Hawaii's outdoors. This policy would include the requirement of basic environmental education for all tour guides provided by experts in the conservation field. This would include teachings about Hawaii's endangered species and how to prevent the spread of invasive species. The teachings would also encourage the creation of a biosecurity plan for every tourism agency with measures aimed towards preventing the spread of invasives on and between Hawaiian islands as well as sanitation protocols for all outdoor equipment used. Through teaching the tour guides and tour companies conservation programs would be able to reach the ears of tourists by supporting tour guides to include the history of Hawaii's fragile and unique ecosystem into their tours. This could lead to the tourists being more aware of their actions during their time spent in the islands, hopefully lowering any negative impacts they have on Hawaii's native ecosystem. I hope that through the creation of this policy Hawaii's tourism industry will focus on becoming more ecotourism based and will not only offer tourists the chance to experience the wonders of Hawaii but will also educate visitors on how Hawaii's native environment continues to struggle under the weight of human species introduction and development.

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