HONOLULU, HAWAII—Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) have entered into an agreement designed to expand general public awareness about ocean conservation.
NOAA is a federal agency that falls under the U.S. Department of Commerce and focuses on the condition of the oceans and atmosphere. Among other responsibilities, the agency oversees the National Marine Sanctuary Program, a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument. Outrigger Hotels & Resorts is a family-owned hotelier based in Waikiki with properties throughout Hawaii and the Pacific. For years, both organizations have engaged in various efforts to increase public awareness about the state’s fragile marine environment.
Now, through a formal agreement, NOAA/NMSP and Outrigger are joining forces to establish a broad, collaborative framework for education and outreach about the conservation of marine animals, plant species, and ocean habitats. This is the first partnership of its kind between NOAA and a hotel company.
“Outrigger has a long-standing commitment to preserving and celebrating everything that makes Hawaii special and wonderful,” says Kimberly Agas, vice president of operations for Outrigger’s beachfront properties, which will host many of the NOAA-Outrigger initiatives. “We are tremendously pleased to be able to partner with NOAA in a way that will promote better public knowledge about our ocean environment, enhance the quality of our guests’ experience, and support our greater island environment.”
Educational Programs Expanded
NOAA, primarily through its National Marine Sanctuary Program, has collaborated with Outrigger on various programs in the past, including giving presentations about humpback whales at Outrigger properties. This new agreement is expected to greatly expand the number of educational programs in the coming months.
“NOAA and the NMSP recognize the special educational and outreach capabilities that Outrigger can contribute to the conservation and recovery of the marine environment throughout the Pacific Island Region,” says Allen Tom, Pacific Islands regional director for the National Marine Sanctuary program. “We applaud Outrigger’s ongoing commitment to supporting Hawaii’s beautiful, but fragile, marine environment. They are a valuable community friend to NOAA.”
Among the first enrichment programs being offered to guests under this agreement are NOAA videos about such subjects as whales, marine sanctuaries and coral reefs. The films are shown daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a new plasma screen television in the lobby of the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort on the Big Island. Also at the hotel is a newly installed Humpback Whale information kiosk, a whale-tail shaped touch-screen computer system that was designed, built and programmed at a cost of $30,000 over a two-year period through a cooperative effort between the National Marine Sanctuary Program and NOAA. The public is welcome to view the videos and whale information kiosk for free.
In the coming months, additional joint programs are being planned for the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and Outrigger Reef on the Beach, both on the island of Oahu.
Outrigger has previously partnered with the National Marine Sanctuary Program and the Ocean Futures Society to develop marine education programs. The hotelier also collaborates on various cultural and environmental programs throughout the year with other community organizations including the Bishop Museum, Girl Scouts, Mission Houses Museum, Waikiki Aquarium, and Friends of Hokulea & Hawaiiloa.
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