Responsible tourism initiative that provided a deeper understanding of sustainability within Hawaiian culture and appealed to the mindful traveller.

The Challenge:

With fragile ecosystems and a diverse natural environment, malama (care of) the land and sea is paramount in Hawaiian culture. As the marketing office for Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), The Walshe Group mirrors this respect through its 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 winds, currents and tides that assisted the original Hawaiian voyagers, are now distributing plastics and rubbish throughout the Pacific and the impact of plastic pollution in our oceans is significant. 


When initially conceived by The Walshe Group, the intent of the 'Sea the Future ' initiative was not linked to, or influenced by, traditional tourism goals such as increasing visitor numbers. It was about creating a powerful force of change, built on connections, culture, the environment and young leaders. First launched by our team in New Zealand in 2018, TWG reached out, and partnered with not-for-profit organisation Sea Cleaners to bring youth ambassadors from New Zealand to Hawaii as part of International Coastal Clean-up Day. The initiative expanded in 2019 to include a wider Pacific Rim engagement with participants from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hawaii. 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 a mindful and environmentally conscientious audience, 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 and all content from the project was featured on a dedicated National Geographic landing page.

Social media played a key role during the initiative. Not only was the content promoted across Hawaii Tourism digital channels in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, it was amplied by our brand partners which included Billabong and Hawaiian Airlines. Many of the participating youth ambassadors were up-and-coming Billabong pro surfers, with significant social media followings including Jackson Dorian, Jay Occhilupo and Liliana Bowrey. Each ambassador organically posted on social media, sharing their experiences. Big wave surf legend Shane Dorian and his family also took part in the project, attending the beach clean-ups and posting live on thei social media. The coastal clean-ups were also publicised through HTOs digital channels which included real-time posting, and resharing photos and videos posted by the ambassadors and brand partners.


  • 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.