Friday, June 28, 2013

Hawaii Big Island - Google Maps - Hiking Trail Exploration


Hawaii & Big Island Selected by Google Maps - First-of-its-Kind Partnership

Stay at Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast and explore hiking trails on the Island of Hawaii.

 Hawaii Visitor & Convention Bureau taps Hawaii Forest and Trail for initiative focused on hiking trails

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) and Google Maps today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership that enables HVCB to borrow the technology company’s state-of-the-art Street View Trekker equipment to collect 360-degree images and visually showcase the Hawaiian Islands’ natural beauty like never before. The initial phase of the project will focus on Hawaii’s most popular hiking trails.

"We are absolutely thrilled and honored to be selected as Google Maps’ first partner to borrow a Trekker, and to have the privilege of working with one of the world’s leading technology companies to enhance the way travelers can connect with the Hawaiian Islands," said John Monahan, HVCB’s president and CEO. "Maps and panoramic imagery serve an integral role in the vacation planning process. Incorporating this interactive and immersive technology on our gohawaii.com site once it’s processed and available online will deliver a powerful travel planning tool for potential Hawaii visitors across the globe."


"The Hawaiian Islands are unlike any other place on the planet, so working with HVCB is a perfect partnership to introduce our new Trekker loan pilot program and bring these stunning landscapes online," said Deanna Yick, program manager for Google Street View. "Finally being able to photograph and share images from a variety of different terrain, including rainforests, beaches, and even trails paved with hardened lava rock will help make Google Maps all the more comprehensive and useful for both tourists and armchair travelers alike."


Phase one of the project will commence on Hawaii, the Big Island this month with the help of Kailua-Kona-based eco-tourism company Hawaii Forest and Trail (HFT). The outfitter was selected by HVCB to help identify appropriate trails for the project, as well as provide the manpower to physically carry the 40-pound Trekker camera pack on the back of their staff and walk the trails to gather the imagery.

"It was important for us to find the right partner who understood the balance between tourism and sustainability to join us on this project," said Jay Talwar, HVCB’s chief marketing officer. "Rob Pacheco and his team at Hawaii Forest and Trail have an impeccable reputation, decades of experience in the eco-tourism business, and a capable staff. We are confident they will be able to deliver with integrity."

"For more than 20 years, the mission of Hawaii Forest and Trail has been to reveal the splendor of Hawaii’s treasured natural resources to visitors through meaningful, interpretive experiences," explained Rob Pacheco, HFT co-founder and president. "Our partnership with HVCB and Google Maps on this project will allow us to play a direct role in mapping the places we know so well, and to visually showcase to the world the beauty and fragility of areas in Hawaii that many may otherwise never see."

A team from Google Maps has been on Hawaii Island the past week introducing HVCB and HFT staff to the special Trekker equipment. The team has already practiced on trails from the Pololu Valley Lookout, Akaka Falls State Park, and inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as part of the training. The HFT team will officially begin collecting still images in July and they will eventually be added to and available on Google Maps later this year. The final list of featured trails will be disclosed publicly once filming has concluded.

"As one of HVCB’s key roles is to create sustainable long-term demand for the Hawaiian Islands, this unprecedented partnership with Google helps us to fulfill that promise in a virtual way on a global scale," Talwar added. "The Hawaii imagery will enhance content on our gohawaii.com site, enabling kamaaina (locals) and visitors alike extraordinary access to hikes and beach walks in an experience previously unavailable."

"The natural beauty of our islands makes this the perfect location to launch the Trekker loan initiative, and we are honored that Google selected Hawaii as its first destination," said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism agency. "This new and innovative platform will be another way for us to share Hawaii’s unique sense of place, while drawing visitors to experience our destination first hand."

Phase one on Hawaii Island is expected to be completed this fall. The Street View Trekker will then make its way to the other five main Hawaiian Islands – Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Lanai, and Molokai. A timeline for these islands will be set at a future date.

For more information and to follow the project’s progress online, please visit:


About Hawaii Forest & Trail
Hawaii Forest and Trail has been exploring Hawaii since 1993. The company’s mission is to deliver guests an excellent, safe and fun learning experience, to support island communities and resources through philanthropy, sustainable business practices and a conservation ethic, and to provide a healthy, profitable, and rewarding environment for our ohana (family). On each and every one of its seven adventures, private and custom tours, and Kohala Zipline Zip & Dip tour, Hawaii Forest & Trail shares the splendor of Hawaii as part of their vision to inspire a deep connection with the natural world.
www.hawaii-forest.com

About HVCB

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau is contracted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state of Hawaii’s tourism agency, for marketing management services in North America. The HTA was established in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawaii tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with the state of Hawaii’s economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs. For more information about the Hawaiian Islands, visit
gohawaii.com.


There are other excellent tour operators offering guided tours on the Big Island:

Kalapana Cultural Tours - offers guided tours to the lava and other adventure activities, based in Kalapana, Island of Hawaii. 

Native Guide Hawaii - Warren Costa, a native Hawaiian, offers custom day tours to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Puna area, Mauna Kea and many other destinations on the Big Island. He is based in Puna, but will pick up his participants at their accommodations to take them on their tour.

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