What We Do
The Hawaii Certified Sustainable Tour Operator program is the only third-party sustainable tourism certification in the U.S. Piloted in 2012, the program has grown to over 40 tour operators spread across 4 islands. The Certification program is open to all tour operators in Hawai’i who are interested in demonstrating their commitment to workforce development, staff training, authentic experiences, and environmental protection.
Pono Travelers are community members, visitors, and employees of tour operators who participate as “secret shoppers”. They evaluate Certified Tour Operators for authenticity, quality of program and information, safety, & enjoyableness. In conducting evaluations, Pono Travelers provide constructive feedback to tour operators from the perspective of a sustainably-minded traveler.
Our ultimate goal is to promote the mantra of “Travel Pono” – to travel and promote a travel industry that is in balance with our local communities, natural surroundings, and cultural resources. To meet this goal, we work to develop educational and outreach programs that provide tools to the tourism industry, educate our visitor population, and support local community awareness.