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Hawaii Ecotourism Association honors Trilogy Excursions as Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year

By Staff | Nov 23, 2017

As a first mate, Magen Schifiliti has the opportunity to share her breadth of knowledge with guests and co-workers.

LAHAINA – The Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA) last week awarded 2017 Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year honors to Lahaina-based Trilogy Excursions.

In addition, Magen Schifiliti, Trilogy’s conservation and education director and first mate, was named Tour Guide of the Year at HEA’s annual awards luncheon on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel.

According to HEA, Trilogy, which runs sailing, snorkeling and whale watching tours on Maui, received the award for its ongoing efforts in supporting the principles of sustainable tourism and promoting practices and programs that enhance the local community and environment.

Some of these practices include:

Becoming the first company to retrofit its vessels to pump out waste at onshore facilities, instead of in the open ocean.

Launching the successful Blue’Aina Reef Cleanup Campaign. Since its inception in 2010, the program has conducted 123 reef cleanups along Maui’s coastline, educated the public and supported numerous ocean-based nonprofits.

Converting Trilogy V to run completely on biodiesel.

Undertaking extensive staff training and ongoing staff development to ensure high-quality and accurate tours.

Supporting environmental initiatives, including the elimination of single-use plastics on all vessels, outfitting all boats with reef-friendly sunscreen and supporting the establishment and ongoing maintenance of a day-use mooring system on Maui.

The company has also transitioned schedules, manifests and ticketing processes to paperless methods and converted the corporate office to run on solar power.

“We congratulate and applaud Trilogy Excursions on their commitment to providing sustainable tours to better serve our tourism industry,” said Aaron J. Lowe, HEA president.

HEA developed Hawaii’s only ecotourism certification program to help educate tour operators on the importance of using natural cultural resources, promote sustainable practices and raise awareness among visitors, residents and businesses in Hawaii.

“We’ve built sustainability into our tours. Giving back to the community and preserving our environment have been an important part of our company and how we operate for over 45 years,” said LiAnne Driessen, director of marketing, sales and media relations at Trilogy Excursions.

The HEA Tour Guide of the Year Award honors a tour guide from each island in Hawaii who best embodies the core assets of quality ecotourism: effective interpretation, conservation of natural resources and authentic cultural experiences. Schifiliti exemplifies these qualities through her multifaceted position with Trilogy.

Her credentials include a Master’s Degree in Marine Biology from the University of Western Australia.

She is in charge of organizing and operating the Blue’Aina Conservation and Education program, and her research contributed to Trilogy’s decision to outfit its boats with reef-safe sunscreen.

Schifiliti is responsible for developing and teaching Naturalist Curriculum lesson plans that all Trilogy crew are required to attend.

Her commitment to ecotourism extends beyond Trilogy Excursions. She sits on the board of Surfrider Foundation Maui and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

This past summer, she took a brief sabbatical from Trilogy to help lead several groups of high school age students with Maui’s Ecology Project International. EPI works with The Nature Conservancy, Maui Cultural Lands, The Hawaii Wildlife Fund and Polanui Hiu Community Managed Marine Area to create research opportunities for visiting students.

HEA also recognized newly certified and recertified operators at the event. There are over 100 businesses across four islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island) that have chosen to go through the rigorous certification process that the Hawaii Ecotourism Association provides.