Island of Hawaiʻi – The Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau (IHVB) and industry partners welcomed 19 qualified meeting planners from the continental U.S. who participated in Meetings Today LIVE! at The Westin Hāpuna Beach Resort from April 26 to 30. This year’s event incorporated various opportunities for planners to learn more about Hawaiian culture through place-based learning.

IHVB partnered with the County of Hawai‘i to wrap the Hele-On Bus with scenic imagery and key tenets from the Pono Pledge, which aims to share ‘ike (knowledge) about how to travel mindfully and safely while on Hawai‘i Island. The group traveled aboard the bus and also had the opportunity to network with Hawai‘i suppliers on-board.

“By demonstrating to these influential meeting planners that Hawai‘i Island is our home and the shared commitment we have to our community, we are educating them about the value of mālama and introducing them to corporate social responsibility (CSR) opportunities they can include in their future programs,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau.

During the event, Kainoa Daines, senior brand director of the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau, conducted cultural training for the planners on topics such as ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i and the significance of place.

On Friday, April 29, the planners participated in mālama-focused activities led by cultural advisor Micah Kamohoali‘i of Waimea, first by visiting Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site for place-based learning. Later that morning, they went to ʻŌhaiʻula (Spencer Beach Park) in Kawaihae for a Mālama Hawai‘i Earth Day CSR beach clean-up, where they met with community-based volunteer organizations that demonstrated the importance of mālama, including South Kohala Reef Alliance, Keep Puakō Beautiful, HPA Sea Turtle Research Program, Little Hands Hawai‘i, Alec & Duke DeRego Foundation-Ocean Safety, NOAA U.S. Department of Commerce, Coral Reef Education Institute and Nākūpuna Companies. Planners also learned how they can incorporate marine conservation efforts in their programming.

The group spent the afternoon at Hōkū‘ula Marketplace featuring the Paniolo Preservation Society at Pu‘ukalani Stables, hula kahiko by Kumu Hula Kamohoali‘i and Hālau Nā Kīpu‘upu‘u, and supported 14 local merchants who sold their made-on-Hawai‘i-Island products. In addition, the planners learned about upcountry ranching and the paniolo history of Waimea town during a site visit at Kahuā Ranch, a historically significant venue that can accommodate groups.

The evening concluded with shoreline stargazing on the Kohala Coast by Stargazers of Hawai‘i, a great way for groups to conveniently experience the stellar night sky from sea level through a large and powerful mobile telescope. All attendees signed the Pono Pledge and were eager to incorporate mālama experiences in their future Hawai‘i programming.

Birch added, “Group travel is important to ensure meaningful recovery for Hawai‘i Island especially during the shoulder periods, and we expect this segment to gradually return in the years ahead. Our work continues to educate meeting planners about our island and how they can embrace place-based learning and CSR opportunities to benefit our community.”


About the Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau
The Island of Hawaiʻi Visitors Bureau (IHVB) is an island chapter of the Hawaiʻi Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB). HVCB is contracted by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) for destination management and marketing services in the continental U.S. IHVB supports our international marketing partners in Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand); and collaborates with island partners — government, hospitality and other industries — and the community to implement the island’s Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP). For more information, visit

Be safe, responsible and mindful while enjoying and exploring the island of Hawaii. Please read, sign and share the Pono Pledge, and encourage others to do the same. #PonoPledge