PUHI — Kipu Ranch Adventures recently received the Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year award for 2019 from the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawai‘i.
Each year STAH chooses a tour company which demonstrates the essence of sustainable tourism by showing a commitment to environmental stewardship, community enhancement, educational support and cultural awareness.
The award was accepted by Kipu Ranch Adventures owners Ted Shanks and Antone Teves, and Robert Wolff.
Teves expressed gratitude upon receiving the award.
“I feel so grateful to each and every one of our employees who helped and continue to work daily at making it all possible. Everyday I’m blessed to be surrounded by a team that strives to have a positive impact on so many different levels of our operation,” he said.
To be nominated for the award, KRA had to meet STAH’s standards and be certified as a sustainable tour operator. Each tour operator needs to meet STAH’s organizational criteria, which involves environmental management, staff involvement, consumer reviews, marketing strategies and community engagement.
“We’ve been certified since 2016, and our staff member Randall ‘Lumbo’ Palau received recognition for Tour Guide of the Year in 2017, and Kameron ‘Mana’ Mano‘i-Agni received the award in 2018,” said Melissa Tavares, plant and cultural resource specialist with KRA.
KRA is a tour operation that receives more than 40,000 customers each year. They recognize the importance of advocating authentic cultural, historical and ecological information to their guests, the owners said. They believe in keeping their work area environmental friendly.
“We want to have a positive ecological impact by eliminating single-use plastics, using ecofriendly and biodegradable products, stocking Kaua‘i-made products in our store, providing our own farm-grown produce for our guests and community, and propagating native plants from local seed sources for future out planting,” Tavares said.
One of the highlights of their journey of meeting their environmental stewardship criteria is their boot-cleaning stations.
“We have installed boot-cleaning stations for our guests to use to help prevent the spread of invasive plant species and pathogens like rapid ‘ohi‘a death. All of our employees have been trained by our plant and cultural resource specialist on ROD identification, prevention and decontamination,” said Tavares.
KRA says they want to thank STAH for recognizing their efforts to continuously improve their operating practices. They believe their employees are the true ambassadors of this award and would like to send them their gratitude for sharing their ideas and implementing these sustainability initiatives, she said.
“We wouldn’t be able to achieve these goals without our amazing employees embracing these practices into their everyday operations. We want to thank all of our staff for their efforts towards sustainable tourism. We’d like to especially thank Melissa Tavares, our plant and cultural resource specialist, for taking on the vision, executing and making a difference,” said Dionne Teves, director of operations.
KRA is a company which focuses on responsible tourism and provides everyone with the greater purpose of preserving the resources and lands KRA is blessed to have for generations to come, Dionne Teves said.
Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.