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Shaping local tourism industry with Hawaiian culture and community values


“Regenerative tourism” is a phrase that you hear a lot in Hawaiʻi these days. The Hawaii Tourism Authority uses it — and so does the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association.

Malia Sanders, the executive director of that group, says regenerative tourism is more than a definition — it’s also a context.

"It is sustainable tourism, but adding onto it a couple more caveats — one being that it really does involve community. And community needs to be the driving force in moving the process forward," Sanders said. "The other is that it includes the host culture. And for Hawaiʻi, we’re really fortunate because there are many places around the world that want to practice regenerative tourism, but they don’t know themselves the way we do here in Hawaiʻi."

"They don’t have that really deep and strong connection to their culture like we do," Sanders told HPR.

The Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association has community resources ranging from cultural training to Hawaiian language lessons. More information on

"Go spend time with kūpuna organizations. Go get yourself dirty in the loʻi, you know, like, get your feet wet. You'll find that these things actually make you feel really good too. And they make life feel purposeful and intentional and they're good for your soul at the same time," she added.

This interview aired on The Conversation on April 22, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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