Participants on a Hawaiian Legacy Tours outing help plant koa trees.The Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA), a nonprofit working to protect the Aloha State’s  natural environment and host culture, handed out its annual tourism awards earlier this month at a banquet in Waikiki.

The organization selected Hawaiian Legacy Tours, a Big Island of Hawaii company that provides visitors a chance to learn about native species and plant native koa trees, for the 2014 Certified Sustainable Tour Operator Award.

The HEA, founded in 1994, also recognized four Ecotour Guides of the Year, honoring Kaiulani Manuwai-Oiph of Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks on Oahu; Jason Lee of Maui Kayak Adventures; Denver Leaman of Body Glove Cruise and Erik Storm of VolcanoDiscovery on the Big Island.

A total of 17 Hawaii tour operators were also recognized for having achieved HEA’s Sustainable Tourism Certification for the 2014-2016 term: Atlantis Adventures, Bike Hawaii, Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure, Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks, Ko Olina Ocean Adventures, Kualoa Ranch, Pacific Islands Institute, Wild Side Specialty Tours, Hawaiian Paddle Sports, Maui Kayak Adventures, Pacific Whale Foundation, Trilogy Excursions, Fair Wind Cruises, Hawaii Forest & Trail, Hawaiian Legacy Tours, Big Island Divers and VolcanoDiscovery Hawaii. 

“As a founding member of the organization, it is really exciting to see the goal of tour operator certification finally come to fruition,” Annette Kaohelaulii, a current HEA board member, said in a statement.

To learn more about the HEA and its ecotourism certification process, visit
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