One of the fastest growing trends in travel is volunteer tourism or “voluntourism,” and according to NPR, more than 1.6 million tourists travel with the purpose to volunteer, spending more than $2 billion a year. Here in America, travelers can help out the local communities where they usually visit, such as the popular island destination of Kauai. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa has been partnered with four diverse non-profit organizations since 2009 to give visitors the opportunity to give back to the community in meaningful ways. Each opportunity offers a chance to learn something new, do something good for both self and others, and be part of and contribute to the island community.
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Guests may choose to put their skills and experience to work at the National Tropical Botanical Garden by assisting with general gardening, propagation, arts and crafts or other tasks. This work continues to perpetuate the survival of local plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge.
If hiking, forestry, and a love of the great outdoors is a passion, Hui o Laka in Koke`e State Park is the place to go. This culturally based volunteer program provides the opportunity for hands-on forest restoration work in areas impacted by overuse or invasive species, thereby contributing to the preservation of Koke`e, a place rich of natural diversity.
Animal lovers will enjoy helping the Kauai Humane Society. Volunteers may cuddle cats or take a dog out on a field trip. When the dogs are checked out in the morning, volunteers are given a list of beaches and hiking trails dogs can enjoy, a water bowl, a leash, and waste bags. The dogs wear a vest that says, “Adopt Me,” so everyone who sees them knows they need a home. This novel program has led to many adoptions both by people who have taken the dog out and fallen in love or someone else saw who saw the adorable companion on its field trip. KHS dogs and cats have been adopted out and now live in 25 states plus many in Canada as well.
Also, visitors flying on Alaska Airlines to Seattle, San Diego, Oakland, or Portland can sign up to be an Aloha Escort, and a dog (or cat) can be transported to be adopted from a shelter there. KHS arranges everything. Once the human and animal passenger land, a partner Animal Shelter will help find the four-pawed passenger a home. People need to do nothing but sign up; the Kauai Humane Society handles the rest.
Surfrider Foundation works to protect and improve the ocean, waves and beaches through conservation, activism, research and education. Monthly beach clean-ups are scheduled around the island where visitors may learn more about ocean conditions and the coastal flora and fauna.
Add a little good karma to your next vacation by helping a local community thrive, not just through your patronage of the destination but also through your own helping hand! Tell your local travel agent you want to enjoy voluntourism at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.
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