Travel2Change Aims to Change Travel for Good
Tourism has an enormous impact on Hawaii. That impact includes $11.4 billion in visitor spending, $1 billion in tax revenue, and more than 150,000 jobs. But that impact also has considerable downsides, in Hawaii as it does everywhere else in the world: Damage to the environment, only aggravated by guide books that send visitors off the beaten paths and onto vulnerable and delicate ones. Damage to the community, from the myriad effects of a high cost of living, including homelessness and crime.
Fortunately, more and more tourists are aware of the potential downsides of their visits to our islands. Ecotourism is on the rise, as is sustainable travel. It’s a trend that Travel2Change is designed to accelerate.
Travel2Change was founded in 2013 by Hawaii Pacific University professor Thomas Kohler with a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $1,600. “Hawaii is not paradise for all,” the campaign noted. “What Hawaii needs are people who care about preserving its beauty and creating a positive impact that will change the lives of its local communities.”
The project was restarted this year with a three-week hackathon to relaunch its platform on the web and for a new iOS app. Having helped over 100 travelers volunteer with the communities they visit, organizers say they now want to help ten times that number.
Travel2Change connects travelers to local community hosts who organize activities with a positive impact. And the concept will be explored this week with two panel discussions in one evening. The first features Travel2Change hosts Zachary Hitchcock and Gene Bennett of the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Todd Cullison of Hui O Ko’olaupoko, and Juliet Langley of the Manoa Cliff Restoration Project. The session will be moderated by Christina Monroe of the East-West Center.
The second is focused on the travel industry, and how it can support local communities. Moderator Regina Ostergaard-Klem of Hawaii Pacific University will lead a discussion with HPU colleague Jerry Agrusa, Frank Haas of Marketing Management, Inc., and June Matsumoto from the Hawaii Convention Center.
After the two panels, there will be time for networking and discussing next steps.
The event will be held on Wednesday, April 15 at Fresh Cafe starting at 5:30 p.m. To attend, register online for free; Fresh juices from JugoLife will be provided for the first 50 attendees to arrive, and for everyone else, food and drinks will of course be available at the venue.