chapter  9
Tourism, Destination Imaging and the ‘New’ Paradigm: Rebranding Paradise in the Hawai‘ian Islands
ByJulie Tate-Libby
Pages 12

The touristic image of Hawai‘i belies the presence of a strong cultural revitalization movement that began in the 1970s and is known as the Hawai‘ian Renaissance. The movement has been manifested largely through language revitalization and the emergence of hundreds of hula halau (traditional dance) schools all over the islands (Stillman, 1996). Additionally, the cultural revival has led to the political Sovereignty Movement, which is a demand for restitution from the United States for the illegal takeover of the Hawai‘ian monarchy in 1893 and for political autonomy for Native Hawai‘ians (Manicas, 2004). For many scholars and community activists, destination resort tourism is seen as having stripped Hawai‘i of its identity and culture and turned it into a non-place (Auge, 1995; Relph, 1976). As travel-writer, Lawrence Lawrence Osbourne (2006:4) notes in the Naked Tourist,

Tourism studies in Hawai‘i (Buck, 1993; Costa, 1998; Desmond, 1999; Hammond, 2001) have largely replicated this theme, arguing that mass tourism has eroded Hawai‘ian culture and identity and rendered the islands inauthentic and artificial. This chapter suggests, however, that recent trends towards sustainability and diversified agriculture among scholars and Native Hawai‘ian activists are being appropriated within the tourism industry to create a ‘greener’ Hawai‘i. This chapter begins with the history of tourism development in Hawai‘i and the imaging of Hawai‘i by the Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau (HVB), and later the State of Hawai‘i’s Tourism Authority (HTA). Today, an emerging grassroots effort to reclaim a Hawai‘ian identity through diversified agriculture and traditional Hawai‘ian practices is reflected in recent media campaigns and studies produced by the HTA. Based on qualitative fieldwork from 2007/2008, this research suggests that significant tensions exist between corporate media campaigns, a state-run tourism agency and lay persons involved in cultural preservation and economic sustainability.