Every November, STAH hosts its Annual Awards Luncheon to recognize the efforts of Hawaii's tour guides, tour businesses, and volunteers. Join us in our effort to promote responsible travel and businesses.
STAH thru the use of it’s certification program, allows operators to make their tours as eco-friendly, culturally educational and sustainable as possible.
Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaiʻi (STAH) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose members include:
Ecotour and lodging operators
Community and environmental organizations
Travel writers and media experts
Economic development and non-profit organizations
Individuals with an interest in conserving the natural and cultural resources of the Islands of Hawaiʻi.
Name Changes & Global Recognition
Hawaii Ecotourism Association changes its name to the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii and became partners with Travelife, a globally recognized certification system.
Strengthening The Association
We revised the Certification Checklist to add the seven specialized best practices sections and the Pono Traveler Program.We have improved and strengthened our Certification program, exceeding international standards. The certification fee structure was revised in order to ensure the program was self-sustaining. HEA also has developed a complaint form and process for following up complaints that are received about and from CTOs.
2 Million People Reached
Outreach Program reached two million people. STAH also collaborated on the new GoHawaii website by developing specific content on sustainable tourism.
Increased Partnership With Hawaii Tourism Authority
The organization saw itʻs best growth, topping 50 certified tour operators and improving our partnerships with GoHawaii.com which created a new Eco-tourism section and now list our certification label alongside other important trust labels in their member profiles. Get certified to get this special addition to your profile.
First Annual HTA Contract
STAH received its first annual contract from HTA and tripled the number of certified tour operators (CTOs) to 50.
Professional Education Program
STAH developed seven short educational videos.
Created Sustainable Tourism Certification Program
STAH developed the Sustainable Tourism Certification Program and certified 18 tour operators.
Grant From HTA To Expand Certification Program
STAH was awarded another HTA Natural Resource Award Program to update and expand the pilot program into the Sustainable Tourism Certification Program.
Pilot Program Completed
Completed the pilot Ecotour Certification Program, now called the Sustainable Tourism Certification.
Pilot Certification Program Developed, Implemented
Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii certifies thirteen Ecotour Operators in the state of Hawaii- The first certification process for ecotour operators in the State. Funding provided by Hawaii Tourism Authority Natural Resources Grant.
Partnership With Coral Reef Alliance
STAH was involved in efforts by the Coral Reef Alliance to encourage the use of sustainable practices in marine tourism.
STAH Peer Review Process
Launched an Ecotour Review process.
Funded Survey To Gauge Certification Interest
HEA partially funded a graduate student to complete a survey of HEA members to explore their interest in a certification program.
Ke Ala Moa’e, The Tradewind Trail
HEA worked with the University of Hawaii’s Cooperative Extension Service on the Ke Ala Moa’e -The Tradewind Trail project and was awarded a Keep It Hawaii certificate of merit in the “special” category.
Beginning a Certification Program
HEA investigated a tour operator certification program and concluded that Hawaii was not ready for a formal certification program because a permanent funding source did not exist for the program.
E Malama: The Ecotourism Manual for Hawaii Published
HEA developed E Malama, an ecotourism manual for Hawaii written by Barbara Mills, funded by Employers Training Fund, Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Workforce Division, published by HEA and co-sponsored by Kapiolani Community College’s Interpret Hawaii Program. This manual is still used today by the Interpret Hawaii Program.
HEA was granted 501c3 status with a mission to educate visitors, organizations and government about the importance of sustainability in tourism.
The organization was rooted in the minds of itʻs first members after attending a Conference on the Environment put on by the HVCB. The founders of STAH worked the conference focused on ecotourism. Over 700 attended.
Meet Our Team
Melanie is the manager of programs offered by the Hawaii Sustainable Tourism Association including Certification, Stamps, Pono Traveler and more. She has an academic background in criminal justice, environmental sustainability, and cultural anthropology. She is set to graduate from Arizona State University with a graduate degree in Social Justice & Human Rights in summer 2022. Melanie worked for several years as an interpretive guide for Hawai’i Forest & Trail (Hawai’i Island). She is well-versed in naturalist interpretation and has extensive experience conducting sustainably-minded excursions that strive to educate local and non-local populations about Hawai’i’s exquisite natural and heritage resources, the challenges we face in protecting and preserving them, and the innovative opportunities through which we can create a better future. She and her daughter live in Kukui’opae ahupua’a near the boundary of South Kona and Kaʻū. They are working to reclaim a small piece of land from invasive species, restoring it to an ecologically-harmonious respite for native dry forest plant, bird, and insect species, canoe plants, and their favorite contemporary food plants. She is an ongoing member of Hālau Kaʻeaikehelelani, Keauhou (Kona). Fun fact: Melanie is originally from a very remote and mountainous area tucked deep within the Sierra Nevada range. She grew up deeply immersed in nature but was exposed to very few humans! For her, tiny little Kona feels like New York City!
Cheryl oversees STAHʻs daily operations and supports the Sustainable Tour Operator Certification program. She has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in biology/psychology from Southampton College of Long Island University and a Master’s of Science degree in marine biology from Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center. Her master’s research was a comprehensive study of Kaho`olawe’s sea turtle population. Cheryl has spent over 20 years on Maui monitoring sea turtle populations, leading beach cleanups, and volunteering for the State, Federal, tourism, and non-profit sectors.
Board of Directors
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM ASSOCIATION OF HAWAII BOARD OF DIRECTORS
STAH focuses on protecting the natural and cultural resources of Hawaii through education programs aimed at visitors, businesses, and community members. Membership is open to non-tour operator businesses and organizations. Tour Operators can be certified through our Sustainable Tour Operator Certification program. Our volunteer Board of Directors helps guide STAH’s strategic planning and expand our network.
Board of Directors’ current goals:
- 1Grow the organization by recruiting new tour operators who are seeking Sustainable Tourism Certification
- 2Educate tour operators about responsible travel practices
- 3Expand our network and enhance partnerships with agencies, businesses, and community members
STAH depends on its Board of Directors to:
- 1Plan and execute member events, including the Annual Awards Luncheon
- 2Recruit new members
- 3Guide strategic planning and program development
- 4Expand networking and partnerships
- 5Enhance funding opportunities