Hawaiian Culture

HTA’s goal is to honor and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and community.

Hawaiian Culture

Native Hawaiian culture is at the heart of our islands' uniqueness. There has been a renaissance of the Hawaiian language and culture since the late 70's. Hawaiian practitioners are increasingly visible in the visitor industry. HTA supports programs that perpetuate and recognize the uniqueness and integrity of the Hawaiian culture and community and their significance in differentiating the Hawaiian Islands through unique and genuine visitor experiences.

Kūkulu Ola: Living Hawaiian Culture Program

The Kūkulu Ola program is part of HTA’s commitment toward Mālama Ku‘u Home (caring for my beloved home) and the interacting pillars of its 2025 Strategic Plan.  The Kūkulu Ola program provides funding support to community-based awardees that enhance, strengthen and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture through genuine experiences for residents and visitors alike.  

For 2020, HTA awarded $1,535,000 in funding through its Kūkulu Ola Program to 43 nonprofit programs statewide that are perpetuating Hawaiian culture. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and availability of funding the overall value of each project’s award was reduced by 50% in May 2020 and an RFP for this program was not issued for projects and events in 2021.

For 2022, Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) was contracted by HTA to administer the 2022 Kūkulu Ola Program.  On September 15th, HCF issued an RFP seeking proposals from the community and qualified nonprofit organizations to provide funding support for projects that perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and community. The application deadline was October 29th. The evaluation and decision-making process, as lead by HCF, included a review committee of community members and staff from both HTA & HCF. Kūkulu Ola Program awardees were notified and a news release went out on January 11th announcing that $1,475,000 in funding will support 32 community-based programs in CY 2022.

Click here to view the news release and to see the organizations funded in 2022.

For the remainder of Calendar Year 2023 through June 2024, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF) will continue to administer the Kūkulu Ola program. HTA is providing $1,350,000 in financial support to community-based programs that enhance, strengthen, and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture through genuine experiences for residents and visitors alike. HTA has awarded 28 community groups and cultural practitioners that continue to enhance, strengthen and perpetuate Hawaiian culture.

See the full press release and discover how destination management and stewardship is advancing in our islands on HTA’s Holomua Site: https://holomua.hawaiitourismauthority.org/

For 2024, The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) is encouraging the community to submit applications for funding support through its upcoming programs: Kahu ʻĀina, Kūkulu Ola, the Resort Area Hawaiian Culture Initiative, Community Enrichment, and Signature Events. On October 3rd HTA, in partnership with Kilohana, unveiled a digital portal, ‘Umeke, Powered by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, for the community to submit all applications online.

HTA will provide funding support to nonprofit organizations, community groups, practitioners, projects, and events occurring in Hawai‘i. Kilohana, HTA’s contractor which is responsible for developing and implementing destination stewardship initiatives statewide, is administering these programs.

ʻUmeke is a gourd or bowl, like one may use to hold poi or water. In the context of these programs, ‘Umeke (umeke.kilohana.com) is the repository for community funding support, as guided by HTA’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and Destination Management Action Plans.

Applications for funding support for projects in CY2024 is now open: HTA program Kūkulu Ola on ʻUmeke.

For more information about this initiative, contact Maka Casson-Fisher at (808) 973-2266 or via email at [email protected]

The Maemae Toolkit

Hawaii is a special place, with a blend of cultures, activities, and experiences unique in the world. These islands have drawn the attention of travel marketers and journalists throughout the years, dating back to authors Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. Along the way, some of those who have featured Hawaii have not always been intimately familiar with the Islands. As a result, our destination has often been misrepresented or inaccurately portrayed.

In response to these issues, we have developed the Maemae Toolkit. It will provide you with the essential information you need to accurately and sensitively promote the Hawaiian Islands. For further information or assistance, please contact us.

See the Maemae Toolkit

Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association

The HTA provides support to the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, a lead organization in implementing HTA's Hawaiian Culture initiatives. These programs and efforts are focused on continuing to bridge the gap between the Hawaiian community and the visitor industry. NaHHA's mission is to promote Hawaiian culture, values, and traditions in the workplace through consultation and education, and to provide opportunities for the Native Hawaiian Community to shape the future of tourism.

Visit the NaHHA website

Maʻemaʻe Toolkit

To help market Hawai‘i authentically, browse through a resource of Hawaiian language tools, style and information guides, cultural activities and festivals, and other pertinent information.

See the Maʻemaʻe Toolkit

Digital Asset Library

Register to access the Knowledge Bank, a public resource of images related to Hawai‘i and tourism-related activities.

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Partnership Opportunities

HTA's Global Marketing Team offers a variety of consumer, travel trade, and MCI marketing opportunities. Partnership opportunities include digital and social media marketing, public relations, travel trade, and meeting sales programs.

See All Partnership Opportunities


Read the latest announcements that provide up-to-date information about current HTA's programs, events and activities.

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