Boarding Cultural Awareness

By Lee Collins
Wednesday - September 21, 2011
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By Lee Collins
Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Polynesian Adventure Tours/Gray Line Hawaii

Hawaii is a key player in the business of world tourism. We must keep our focus on improving that position and we must do it with quality and attention to detail. That’s one reason this past April that all of us at Polynesian Adventure Tours/Gray Line Hawaii were thrilled to introduce the AlohaBus, a “hop-on, hop-off” fleet of red, open-top double-decker tour buses that ply scheduled routes between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu.

With the proven popularity of similar open-top sightseeing buses in cities such as New York and San Francisco, we felt that Hawaii’s year-round warm climate and beautiful scenery would be the perfect backdrop for our own set of buses. Our seven AlohaBus double-deckers offer something new and exciting to Hawaii’s visitors and are an attraction in themselves. You get to travel in high style, enjoying the sun, trade winds and open vistas of Oahu. Every bus has an “aloha ambassador” on board, taking care of passengers in a friendly and helpful spirit that is uniquely Hawaiian in nature. Each has undergone cultural education by our associates at the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) who have trained our tour guides and bus drivers for many years. We have always believed in being accountable for how we portray the people of our community who we are and what our history is, and where we are going. NaHHA also helped program our state-of-the art AlohaBus narration, which is GPS-activated as the bus passes cultural and historical sites (as well as shops and restaurants).

(from left) Lee Collins, Dave Slape, Sara Matsuura, Glenda Santiago, Sandra Weir, Colin Murphy, Margie Lehman, Glenn Kawamura, Manly Kanoa and Charles Wheeler. Polynesian Adventure Tours/Gray Line Hawaii photo

Better still, it’s offered on individual headphones in English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Spanish. Another way we’re bringing Hawaiian culture to AlohaBus riders is through music.

We enlisted the acclaimed Mountain Apple Company to provide hours of songs by renowned artists such as Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and Amy Hanaiali’i.

The history and culture of Hawaii sets us apart from other destinations around the world, and it’s imperative that we portray them with accuracy and sensitivity.

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