© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Lānaʻi Culture and Heritage Center on finding balance within the tourism industry

FILE - The island of Lānaʻi.
Sophia McCullough
FILE - The island of Lānaʻi.

The Lāna‘i Culture and Heritage Center has reopened, and thatʻs focusing attention on how the island wants to manage the future of tourism.

The center began in 2007 to educate people about Lānaʻi’s legacy by preserving Hawaiian traditions and plantation-era history.

Shelly Preza, the executive director of the center, said Lāna’i’s primary clientele are the visitors who can afford to stay at the island’s luxury accommodations.

But the day visitors, those that catch the ferry from Maui and then return, are starting to come back.

"Certainly the pandemic, I think, brought to light different issues that I think have existed for a long time. Some community people did participate in that destination management action plan that Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority was kind of trying to do on each island," she said.

"I think there was this desire to try to balance the economic benefits of tourism for small businesses, for the hotels here on Lāna‘i, but also ensure that people who are visiting Lāna‘i are deeply respectful of our place, of the people, and are taking time to learn about the place that they're visiting," Preza added.

Now that the center is open again, she hopes visitors will gain a sense of appreciation for the island’s history and culture.

"We're a small island, we don't have a big population. But I think we have so much to share with others," she said.

The center is open Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

This interview aired on The Conversation on April 4, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Related Stories