One of your Certified Tour Operators is doing something that I don’t think is sustainable, what should I do?

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HEA’s certification is not intended to say that every tour operator is 100% sustainable. What we are doing is helping to identify tour operators that are going above and beyond to try and reduce the impacts of tourism on the natural environment; improve the community in which they work; and share a sense of place with visitors. We look at the company as a whole, particularly their management practices, to see that they have a commitment to continually improving how they operate.

For example, our tour operator of the year in 2014 was Hawaiian Legacy Tours. Every tour they operate, a portion of the proceeds are donated to a local non-profit, they operate as a certified B-Corporation, and they work to reforest the Hamakua coast with native Koa trees. Nonetheless, to offer tours up the mountain and into the forest, they utilize 4 wheel drive, fuel inefficient vehicles. With limited alternatives, an emphasis on vehicle maintenance to minimize impacts, and a full portfolio of other positive actions, STAH certified this operator because overall the company uses the best management practices that are available to them.