Those wishing to engage in a spot of "voluntourism,"  may be interested in an initiative being offered in Hawaii. The "Malama Hawaii" scheme encourages visitors to leave Hawaii better than when they arrived, and in some cases they will receive a free extra night from participating hotels for volunteering.

In an effort to inspire mindful travel, industry partners and volunteer organizations across the state have come together for the project, which comes as Hawaiian tourism recovers from being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Malama" means to “care for,” and Hawaii is asking travelers to be respectful of its beauty and leave with a better understanding of what it means to care for the earth and each other.

A man and woman planting a tree in Hawaii
Alaska Airlines president Ben Minicucci planting a tree in Hawaii © Alaska Airlines

Volunteer projects range from reforestation and tree planting to self-directed beach clean-ups, ocean reef preservation and creating quilts for Hawaiian elders. All projects are carried out by following best public health practices. One project is being organized by Alaska Airlines, which is asking people to join in with its initiative of planting one tree for every flight it makes to the Hawaiian islands through the end of the year, in partnership with the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative.

Hawaii is now open to tourists but entry requirements vary by island

"As we welcome visitors back to Hawaii, we want to support awareness of mindful travel to the islands – both in the air and on the ground,” says Daniel Chun, Alaska’s director of sales, community and public relations for Hawaii. “We’re excited to support Malama Hawaii, as it provides a way for our guests to partner with local residents and organizations to help strengthen the communities they visit.”

Sustainable travel goals for 2020

Airline, hotel and volunteer organizations that are offering voluntourism opportunities and special offers around Malama Hawaii are listed on Go Hawaii's website and can be viewed here.

You might also like:

How to choose a sustainable volunteering project
You can be a part of worldwide coral regeneration schemes – here's how
How to find an ethical wildlife conservation project

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