HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tourism in Hawaii’s past has used Hawaiian culture as a marketing tool to entice visitors to our islands but in recent years, the Hawaii Tourism Authority has worked closely with our local communities to shift the focus toward a more meaningful and authentic cultural experience in an effort to malama kuu home, or care for our beloved home.

One organization which aligns with this mission is Pai Foundation.

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Kamaka Pili introduces the Pai Foundation Director, Vicky Holt Takamine.

One thing that is interesting about the Pai Foundation is you (Takamine) work closely with cultural practitioners and local artists for over 20 years at this point. But I think it’s very interesting that you target both the community and our visitors as well. Why is that important?

Takamine responded, “Well I think it’s important for tourists who come and visit Hawaii to learn a little bit more about our Hawaiian culture. And learn it from the artists themselves that perform hula, make your leis but authentic experiences and face-to-face.”

Recently you just established a new event at the heart of Waikiki. Why is it important to bring such a program and culture and experience to not just Waikiki but its resort destination? Why is that important?

“Well I performed my entire life in Waikiki and I was part of that tourism industry. But I also felt it was important to bring our artists into Waikiki so that the tourists don’t have to be hunting to us. We’re right there. We can share, we can talk story,” explained Takamine.

Those are the stories they’ll remember when they go back home and talk story about with their family. So Hawaii Tourism Authority, what do you think is their role in all of this and why is it important they re-invest their tourism dollars back within our community?

Takamine said, “well their responsibility is to market and sell Hawaii as a Tourism industry. It is the number one economic driver for our state. But it is also important for them to support and grow the industry that supports that marketing and tourism. So you need to infuse dollars into the cultural practices and to make sure that the artists are thriving, healthy and have jobs. There’s a balance that the tourism industry has to do — both hotels and airlines and Hawaii Tourism Authority. They have to infuse and make sure they support the cultural practitioners that they market.”

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Malama kuu home is sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.