Trilogy Excursions was named 2017 Tour Operator of the year by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association. Trilogy’s Conservation and Education Director and First Mate, Magen Schifiliti, took home Tour Guide of the Year honors.
The award recipients were honored at the Annual Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel.
The HEA honor recognizes the Hawaii ecotour operator who demonstrates a commitment to environmental stewardship, cultural sensitivity, community outreach, education and more. There are more than 100 businesses across Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Big Island that have chosen to go through the rigorous certification process that the HEA provides. These businesses exemplify how sustainable ecotourism can be put into practice here in Hawaii.
Trilogy Excursions is Maui’s oldest sailing catamaran tour company and has been setting the standard for sustainable tourism practices since its inception in 1973. From being the first boat company to not dump bathroom waste in the water to establishing the day-use mooring systems instead of dropping anchors that destroy vulnerable coral reefs, the owners have had the wisdom and vision to incorporate sustainability into Trilogy tours and inspire personal conviction to be stewards of the environment.
The HEA Tour Guide of the Year, Schifiliti, was honored for being the guide on Maui that best embodys the core assets of quality ecotourism: effective interpretation, conservation of natural resources and authentic cultural experiences. Conservation and Education Director and First Mate Schifiliti exemplifies these qualities through her multifaceted position with Trilogy. Her credentials include a Master’s of Marine Biology from the University of Western Australia. She is in charge of organizing and operating the Trilogy Blue‘Aina Conservation and Education program; her research contributed to Trilogy’s decision to outfit its boats with reef safe sunscreen; she is responsible to develop and teach Naturalist Curriculum lesson plans that all Trilogy crew are required to attend; and as a First Mate aboard Trilogy Vessels, Schifiliti has the opportunity to share her breadth of knowledge with guests and coworkers first hand.
Schifiliti’s commitment to ecotourism extends beyond Trilogy Excursions. She sits on the board of two Maui area Non-Profits, Surfrider Foundation Maui and the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. This past summer, she took a brief sabbatical from Trilogy to help lead several groups of high-school aged 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.
Trilogy continues to focus on smaller changes that when operating six boats simultaneously can make a large impact. They have converted one of its boats to biodiesel; they purchased reusable cups and eliminated single use plastics; they transitioned schedules, manifests and ticketing processes to paperless methods; they converted the corporate office to run on solar power; and they began educating guests on alternative sun protection options such as rash guards and started spreading the word about the importance of using reef-safe sunscreens; their Trilogy boats are now outfitted with complimentary reef-safe sunscreen for guests to use.
Trilogy Excursions has also given back to the local Maui and Lana‘i community through its Blue‘Aina Conservation and Education program which hosts monthly events that facilitate reef cleanups and land-based projects to protect Maui and Lana‘i’s coral reef systems.
Photo: James Brennan