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The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) and Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau (MVCB) is partnering with three community-based organizations – Hōlani Hāna, Ke Ao Hāli‘i, and Na Mahi‘ai o Ke‘anae – to manage and implement the East Maui Tourism Management Pilot Program following an extensive request for proposals (RFP) solicitation process that began in April 2023. Supporting HTA’s mission to Mālama Hawai‘i (care for our beloved home), the organizations are collaborating under the banner of Mālama Maui Hikina, which translates to caring for East Maui.

“Uplifting community-based stewardship is essential to improving destination management as these solutions HTA is supporting have been created by the community, for the community, first and foremost,” said Mufi Hannemann, HTA Board Chair. “Providing opportunities for East Maui residents to educate visitors about the spaces they are entering, how to engage respectfully, and the cultural and historical significance these places bear will have significant impacts on preserving these areas and improving the overall experience for residents and visitors alike.”

HTA is funding this community-driven approach to destination management as guided by its Maui Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP). HTA and MVCB also organized the East Maui Advisory Group comprised of East Maui residents which provided important input on this program.

“The formation of Mālama Maui Hikina is precisely the type of destination management partnership HTA envisioned, comprising a team of community leaders who bring valuable knowledge and perspective to their approach in proactively managing tourism’s impacts for the benefit of the residents of East Maui,” said Daniel Nāho‘opi‘i, HTA’s interim president and CEO. “Our team is proud to work with these respected organizations to implement community-driven solutions aimed at improving the well-being of the community through our Mālama Hawai‘i efforts.”

MVCB issued a RFP in April 2023 seeking proposals from the East Maui community with innovative, community-driven management projects to address tourism’s impacts at heavily visited sites identified in the Maui Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP).

These sites are especially popular with visitors, which may result in overcrowding, congestion, degradation of resources, safety hazards, and a negative experience for both residents and visitors. Each of the Mālama Maui Hikina partners are responsible for working to restore balance in the following East Maui sites:

  • Hōlani Hāna – Honolewa (a.k.a. South Wailua Falls)
  • Ke Ao Hāli‘i – Kaihalulu (a.k.a. Red Sand Beach) and Waioka (a.k.a. Venus Pools)
  • Native Hawaiian Philanthropy d.b.a. Na Mahi‘ai o Ke‘anae – Nā‘ili‘ilihaele Stream (a.k.a. Bamboo Forest) and Waikamoi Falls

In addition to the Mālama Maui Hikina partners, this collaborative effort was made possible with the support of many others, including the East Maui Advisory Group, County of Maui, Maui Police Department, Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety, State Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife, State Department of Transportation, Mahi Pono and Alexander & Baldwin.

Meagan DeGaia, MVCB’s destination manager said, “We are thankful for this opportunity and are continuing to work closely with the East Maui community to ensure that tourism management continues to be driven by residents. The East Maui Advisory Group, which is comprised of community members from each moku (district) in East Maui, has been instrumental and resourceful in guiding us throughout this process.”

The purpose of the East Maui Tourism Management Pilot Program is to uplift community-based solutions that will be supported by HTA. It advances the Maui DMAP in which residents specifically called for managed tourism actions: initiate, fund and continue programs to protect the health of ocean, fresh water and land-based ecosystems and biosecurity; explore the capacity limits at heavily visited sites through science-based data; continue to offer cultural education and training programs to enhance and perpetuate aloha; implement a responsible communications program to educate visitors pre- and post-arrival about safe and respectful travel; amplify regenerative tourism on Maui; and develop and promote initiatives to improve the experience of transportation and ground travel.