Hawaii’s heritage sites connect us to our past, and—with appropriate conservation and stewardship—will  continue to do so into the future. With its diverse and unique history, it is imperative that Hawai‘i maintain and preserve the state’s significant sites, including historic and pre-contact sites, buildings, districts, and landscapes. Local development, environmental factors, and increased visitation all pose threats to the integrity of these important places.

Cultural heritage travel is a growing sector within Hawaii’s largest industry of tourism. The funds raised through heritage tourism can provide for their continued maintenance, and visitation also can engage a strong constituency with interest in their long-term sustainability and preservation. However, increased visitation may place stress on historic properties, which can endanger the sites’ longevity. In working to meet demand, authenticity may be lost.

For the visitor industry, heritage attractions provide distinctiveness and identity, helping to distinguish Hawai‘i from other destinations. Many people enjoy a deep fascination with the sites where history took place, as well as with the stories they can directly experience by visiting these historic places. Yet there is a discrepancy in scale and expectations that may lead to a mismatch between small sites unprepared for the needs and demands of visitation, and lack the capacity to meet them.

The forum will bring together members of both the heritage and visitor industries to start a dialogue on the balance and tension inherent in these issues.  How will the balance between stewardship of heritage sites and increase in heritage tourism be managed into the future? What roles do various stakeholders play in defining this relationship in the future? What can the sectors learn from each other to be equal and collaborative partners?

Potential outcomes of the forum include identification of specific challenges to research, an action plan to resolve barriers, or identification of opportunities for joint action