With its endless sunshine, beaches, and island excursions, Hawaii is the definition of the dream vacation.
I mean, who doesn’t have Hawaii on their bucket list?
Unfortunately for many people, that Hawaiian vacation never comes to fruition thanks to such a hefty price tag. But now Hawaii is offering the perfect solution – one that not only makes going to the Aloha State even more fun – but totally affordable too!
The pandemic hit the tourism and travel industries hard!
But no one in the United States felt it quite like Hawaii.
Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu were typically buzzing with surfers, leis, and luaus – but with the pandemic and strict travel restrictions, these tropical islands were left untouched and unenjoyed.
Meanwhile, Hawaii’s unemployment rate rose a staggering 23.5%, and over a billion dollars in tourism revenue was quickly lost.
Hawaii eventually did reopen its borders, but with so many hoops for travelers to jump through – including being trapped in their hotel room for part of their stay – people just weren’t that eager to spend their savings and precious vacation days in Hawaii.
But a lot of that is about to change…or, at least the trapped in your hotel room after spending a small fortune.
Hawaii has just created a new tourist program that combines the selfless act of community service along with the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful islands.
Known as a “sustainability package,” upscale hotels and resorts like Prince Waikiki have teamed up with the Hawaiian Tourism Authority and Hawaii Visitors to create the Mālama Hawaii Initiative.
The initiative offers people the opportunity to receive various discounts on their trip – free hotel nights or gifts – in exchange for services such as picking up litter in a designated area.
“Our request is for travelers to O‘ahu to engage in, connect and understand the aloha spirit by respecting our communities and values, and caring for the very destination they are visiting,” said Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, executive director of the O‘ahu Visitors Bureau to USA Today.
“Mālama Hawai‘i allows our guests to have a more meaningful experience and bring the importance of mālama back to their own communities.”
With an increasing focus on sustainability, people have been more considerate of their environmental impact when traveling.
And getting family involved with volunteer work has benefits beyond just great memories like fostering empathy and encouraging better communication, says Psych Central.
But if you decide to go, you will have to prepare.
All United States citizens traveling into Hawaii will have to register with the State of Hawaii Safe Travels online system.
In addition to registering your personal information with the Hawaiian government, you’ll have to provide a negative COVID test from a pre-approved testing center within 72 hours of departure – or sit in your hotel room for 5 days before getting to enjoy the island sun.
But still, that’s better than international travelers who must be vaccinated AND provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.
Unfortunately, once you get into Hawaii, you will be limited on what establishments you can enter if not vaccinated.
And some Hawaiian cities are even mandating vaccines for children.
Thankfully, most of the volunteer work will be outdoors!
So, if you can stomach the vaccine requirements and current mandates, then Hawaii could be the perfect adventure for you and anyone who loves to travel, give back, and hang with the locals.
Not only will you learn a lot about the beautiful state of Hawaii through its sustainability program – you’ll get an inside look that’s outside of the typical tourist experience.