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Big Island Business Report 2014

(page 7 of 8)

Photo: Courtesy of Hawaii Forest & Trail


Educational tourism entices visitors to come back to Hawaii Island again and again.

No matter how diversified the local economy becomes, tourism will always remain one of the main draws to the Islands. But what those on Hawaii Island have figured out is that today’s traveler, especially the one going to Hawaii Island, craves more than sun and sand (although that’s there, too). Perhaps what’s even more interesting is that those in the tourism industry here have recognized this savvy traveler for quite some time.

“When we started our business in 1993, we were on the fringe of what people were looking for,” says Rob Pacheco, founder of Hawaii Forest and Trail. “One of the biggest impetuses for people to travel is to collect stories, and the cool thing about Hawaii is that we have these amazing stories that are laid out on the landscape.”

Pacheco incorporates the study of interpretive training to the company’s tours, which have gained notoriety with features in esteemed media outlets such as National Geographic Traveler. The company offers tours that allow clients to witness lava entering the sea, experience the wonder of the stars from Mauna Kea and enjoy waterfall adventures, to name a few.

“We apply research to everything we do, from customer service to this interpretive process, in ways that get everything out of the way that would hinder the experience,” Pacheco says. “We hope everybody comes out, in a small or fundamental way, better and different by the experience.”

The Rundown

  • Hawaii Island’s diversity offers many opportunities for tourists to learn while traveling.
  • Hawaii Island has a higher percentage of repeat visitors than Oahu, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
  • Hawaii Forest and Trail has partnered with private landowners to offer access to otherwise restricted areas to its clients.
  • Recent developments, such as the opening of the Daniel K. Inouye Saddle Road, allow for easier travel to and from the east and west sides of the Island, cutting down travel time drastically for tourists and residents.
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park employs 139 full-time individuals and had approximately 3.3 million visits in 2012, according to the National Park Service.



Percentage of all visitors to Hawaii Island in 2012 who were repeat visitors. For comparison, in the same year 58.3% of all visitors to Oahu were repeats.

– Source: Dept. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism


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