An independent verification system to distinguish industry leaders in sustainable tourism, offers education for those trying to learn, improve and contribute to the positive environmental stewardship, cultural sensitivity and community well-being of the Hana Highway. 


  1. Educate commercial tour operators, commercial kitchen owners and community stakeholders on management practices for the responsible use of natural and cultural resources.
  2. Ensure credibility that providers are managing their impact and contributing give-back to best conserve the natural and cultural resources, helping to sustain local communities.
  3. Increase visibility of sustainable tourism operators along the Hana Highway and raise awareness among visitors.

Minimum Requirements

1.  A current member of the Hana Community Association

2.  In compliance with all Federal, State, and Local regulations for all products/services, and

commits to abide by all necessary permit conditions.

3. Demonstrates commitment to HHR's Road to Hana Code of Conduct. 

4.  Is a commercial, for-profit endeavor.

5.  Provides accurate information to guests that can be referenced.

6.  Utilizes marketing that is accurate and demonstrates responsible travel practices.

7.  Contributes to conservation efforts annually.

8.  Contributes to the communities in which they operate annually.

Operating Principles

9.   Environmental Management

10.  Staff Management

11.   Interpretation Management

12.  Consumer Evaluation Management

13.   Marketing Management


Step 1: Self -Evaluation

Applicants will complete a report with a framework of the 13 point, HHR self-assessment checklist outlined above which elaborates on the company and principles of the operation in autobiography form. Please include as attachments; photos, reports, documents, etc. to further support your report.

Step 2: Third Party Evaluation

An HHR Evaluator will contact the Applicant to review the checklist and schedule an in-person evaluation. The Evaluator then participates in one activity, verifies components of the self-assessment checklist, and rates the applicant on the various operating principles. The Evaluator will then review their findings with the Applicant to reconcile any discrepancies in their findings.

Step 3: Reporting & Certification

The HHR Evaluator will submit their findings and all supporting documentation to HCA board for final approval. HHR will then contact the Applicant regarding their certification award status. For those that do not attain certification, a report detailing key metrics that were not satisfied will be returned to the tour operator and they are offered the opportunity to be reevaluated at no additional cost within six months.






To attain certification, RCPs must meet the following criteria..

  • Meet all the RCP minimum requirements,
  • Has an average rating of “Adequate” or better in all five Operating Principle categories.
  • Has an average rating of “Good” or better in at least three out of five Operating Principle categories.
  • Submits a monthly Statement of Gross Income

Value exchange of Certification..

RCP Deliverables: 

  1.     1. Satisfies RCP Minimum Requirements and satisfies Operating Principles.
  2.     Implements and abides by the Road to Hana Code of Conduct. 
  3.     Facilitates staff training, presentation, q&a provided free by HCA.
  4.     Monthly submission, Statement of Gross Income for activities related to the Road to Hana.

HCA Deliverables:

  1. Personalized staff training; Road to Hana Code of Conduct Presentation, Q&A
  2.  Visitor Industry and Community advocacy, including but not limited to Company recognition through:
  3. Hana Pono registered commercial partners list ‘page’ at HanaHighwayRegulation.com
  4. Hana Pono registered commercial partners list ‘page' at HanaCommunityAssociation.com 
  5. Listed as company on print advertisement, published quarterly via Hana Side News. 
  6. verbal recognition at community meetings and applicable events.
  7. verbal recognition at concierge and visitor industry training seminars [four facilitated per month]
  8. registered commercial partners list reference card, distributed direct to key concierge [200 per month]
  9.  (1) vinyl sticker, per registered company equipment by PUC vehicle inventory or general use decal request form.
  10. Digital badge including .pdf and .jpg of HANA PONO seal for website and media promotion, per Hana Pono RCP Agreement and seal usage policy.



HHR’s certification is not intended to say that every tour operator is 100% sustainable. What we are doing is helping to identify tour operators that are going above and beyond to try and reduce the impacts of tourism on the natural environment; improve the community in which they work; and share a sense of place with visitors. We look at the company as a whole, particularly their management practices, to see that they have a commitment to continually improving how they operate.

For example: One of our applicants, a ground tour company.  For every tour they operate, a portion of the proceeds are donated to a local non-profit and they volunteer their staff to Highway work days removing invasive species, reforesting the Ko’olau moku with native Koa trees. Nonetheless, to offer tours, they utilize both fuel efficient and fuel inefficient vehicles. With limited alternatives, an emphasis on vehicle maintenance to minimize impacts, and a full portfolio of other positive actions, it was fair for HHR to certify this group.

HHR’s Registered Commercial Partners Program requires careful examination of each applicant and a wide variation in the type of business that was described in the application. In order to assure that evaluations are uniformly conducted across each operator, the following assumptions were made:

Definition of Sustainable or Cultural Tourism.

Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. To maximize social and economic benefits to Hana Highway communities and businesses while respecting, nourishing, preserving and enhancing Hawaii’s natural, cultural and human assets.

Evaluation does not include impacts from air travel.

Entirely sustainable operations are difficult for island communities because air travel is required to reach these destinations. The scope of this evaluation includes activities once on an island.

Only established operations are evaluated.

Some operators may plan to construct buildings in the future, rent a location for their operation, or add a product or service. This certification assumes that the operation at the time of evaluation is being certified.

Tours have a natural and/or cultural area focus.

Eligible operators must principally involve activities or attractions along the Hana Highway and incorporate promotion or preservation of Hawaii’s natural environment and/or cultural resources.

CONTACT    info@hanahighwayregulation.com    1-888-205-1333

© 2016 Hana Highway Regulation Authority