This responsible tourism initiative brings together youth ambassadors, stakeholders and the community to protect Hawaii's coastlines.

The Challenge:

With fragile ecosystems and a diverse natural environment, tourism has both positive and negative impacts for the Hawaiian Islands. Respect for the environment is paramount in Hawaiian culture, and as the marketing office for Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), The Walshe Group mirrors this respect through its activities and initiatives. More than a pure exchange of travel, we have a responsibility to play a part in sustaining the communities, culture and natural resources of the Hawaiian Islands.

The impact of plastic pollution in our oceans is significant. The winds, currents and tides that assisted the original Hawaiian voyagers, are now distributing plastics and rubbish throughout the Pacific.



When initially conceived by The Walshe Group, the intent of the Sea Cleaners initiative was not linked to, or influenced by, traditional tourism goals such as increasing tourism numbers. The initiative was about doing something that was right (or as Hawaiians say, ‘pono’) for a special part of our planet that we in Australia and New Zealand share with Hawaii and other Pacific neighbours. It was about creating a powerful force of change, built on connections, culture, environment and young leaders who care.

First launched by our team in New Zealand in 2018, the initiative expanded in 2019 to include a wider Pacific Rim engagement. TWG reached out, and partnered with not-for-profit organisation Sea Cleaners to bring youth ambassadors from Australia, New Zealand and Japan to Hawai‘i as part of International Coastal Clean-up Day. Thirteen youth ambassadors helped clear plastic from remote coastal areas, shared ideas with schools and communities, and participated in educational activities centred on responsible travel.

To engage an environmentally conscientious audience who are avid and curious travellers, we also partnered with National Geographic to film the project. They produced short documentaries and additional digital content advocating the ethos of responsible travel.  The documentaries were telecast on the National Geographic television channel from October to December and all content from the project was featured on a dedicated National Geographic landing page. The initiative was also promoted across TWG and partner social media channels.




  • The collaboration between market areas (New Zealand, Australia and Japan) was deemed an outstanding success and has led to an expanded initiative to include more HTA offices from around the Pacific Rim.
  • Over the two-day clean-up, over 10,000 litres of plastic was cleared from the beach. This is particularly significant given that much of the waste was micro-plastics
  • Social media played a key role during the initiative with the youth ambassadors, and partners posting live across their channels. Through our social media channels, there were over 517,000 impressions and over 60,000 engagements. The combined reach of ambassadors and partners was 5 million
  • The video content for Eco-Traveller and Sea the Future reached a total of 704,700 viewers throughout its telecast from October 2019 – January 2020
  • The Eco-Traveller content hub totalled 82,633 page views and an additional 1,958,072 ad impressions.