I went on a tour that I thought was really good and they are not certified. What should I do?

Mentioning your positive experience with the company on social media and urge them to seek certification. Others may agree with you, which may be the encouragement the operator needs to seek certification. The cost of becoming certification is not excessive and STAH wants visitors to know about operators that are using best management practices to […]

Who is the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii and why are they qualified to certify tour operators?

STAH is a 401(c)3 educational non-profit who has served Hawaii for over 20 years. Our mission is to protect Hawaii’s unique natural environment and host culture through the promotion of responsible travel. The certification program was designed as a way to educate tour operators about best practices for tourism and to educate visitors about which […]

Why should I choose to travel with a certified tour operator?

When you travel with a certified tour operator the benefits are many! Enjoy more authentic and memorable experience by choosing a tour operator that cares to create these experiences for you Learn from highly trained tour guides who provide accurate insight about Hawaii’s unique culture and environment Feel secure knowing that you are traveling with […]

I’m considering an “Eco/Geen” tour, but they are not certified. What does this mean?

The certification fees for STAH are very low and the process is very inclusive, so it might be a red flag about greenwashing if the “eco” tour you are considering is not certified. The most current list of certified tour operators can be found on the Travel Pono page. Of course, plenty of great companies […]

It frustrates me when I see big tour buses pilling visitors onto my favorite beach/hiking trail/etc. Doesn’t certification encourage more of this?

At STAH we do encourage visitors to travel with tour operators versus traveling on their own for a number of reasons: When visitors travel on their own, they do not get educated on how to interact with the area they are visiting, or what types of behaviors can cause issues. Tour operators can provide this […]

How does Certification help Hawaii’s environmental and cultural resources?

Since we require all our certified tour operators to provide fact based interpretation, all their tour participants learn about Hawaii’s unique environmental and cultural resources. Through this education, visitors learn how to travel pono and preserve the beauty of Hawaii for future generations.

Does the program encourages tour operators to buy and hire locally to keep profits within the State?

Yes! This is one of the points of emphasis and we work to find resources for tour operators to make this cost effective and practical.

What benefits are in it for residents?

As a part of certification, it is a minimum requirement for all tour operators to ANNUALLY participate in at least TWO community service projects AND TWO natural resource protection/restoration projects. Tour operators must demonstrate a commitment to serving Hawaii and the community in which they operate.

Our company offers multiple tours, how does certification work with that?

No, Evaluations are conducted on only one tour, with an emphasis on the tour that offers the most narrative along the way. Certification focuses mostly on management practices, the tour evaluation is conducted to ensure those practices are actually put into place. HOWEVER, if a company markets their different tours under different names, we do […]

What are the benefits of certification?

See our Benefits of Certification page for the most up to date list of benefits.