Hawai‘i Ecotourism Association Names Travel Writer of the Year
The Environmental and Culturally-Focused Tourism Organization Will Honor the Winner at its Annual Awards Lunch on November 13th at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel.
HONOLULU, HI – The Hawai‘i Ecotourism Association, the organization that runs and sets the standard for Hawai‘i’s Sustainable Tour Certification Program, will be honoring the best in Hawai‘i’s ecotourism landscape at its awards luncheon next week.
In addition to the top operators and guides, HEA also recognizes a writer who shares the values of ecotourism with readers through newspaper or magazine articles on personal travel experiences. HEA wishes to underline the impact that travel writers have on visitors to Hawai’i – they are the first line of influence in determining how a visitor views, interacts with, and experiences a destination.
This year’s Travel Writer of the Year is Will McGough from O’ahu. Based in Waimanalo, Will is the publisher and editor of Wake and Wander Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i’s Travel Newspaper. Started in October 2016, the free monthly newspaper has grown to more than 70 locations on O’ahu in its first year and expanded onto Maui, Kaua’i, and the Big Island, including five locations at the Honolulu Airport and a partnership with Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for distribution at locations throughout Hawai‘i.
As he writes in his opening letter from the editor, the drive behind the paper is to get away from the sensationalized, headline-driven stories of the modern-day travel writing industry and use long-form, narrative-based storytelling to inspire deeper, immersive travel. Only then will locals and visitors alike be able to explore Hawai‘i with a sense of understanding, appreciation, and respect, he says.
“Modern-day journalism wants you to think of travel as a collection of superlatives. The best beaches, the top five hotels, the ‘one meal you have to try before leaving Honolulu,’” he writes. “I want to help people view and share experiences as experiences, not as good or bad or best or worst but as individual grapes that together, the good alongside the bad, add up to a beautiful bunch.”
Will writes, designs, and delivers all the papers himself (with a little help from his friends), and works with a cultural ambassador, Maui’s Kainoa Horcajo, and historian, DeSoto Brown of the Bishop Museum, to ensure sensitivity and promote cultural awareness.
Through the first ten issues, Wake and Wander Hawai‘i has done many stories that involve ecotourism, aiming to inform and inspire people to seek out these experiences for themselves. He has written stories about local ecotourism companies and nonprofits, such as Hawaiian Paddle Sports, travel2change, Paepae o He‘eia, Hui o Ko‘olaupoko, Hanalei Taro, Kaua’i Food Tours, Kaua’i Hiking Tours, and many others. He has also written several stories for mainland-based publications about ecotourism in Hawai‘i, including AFAR, Travel Pulse, Travel Weekly, and Alaska Airlines Magazine.
Will has been a guest travel expert on Hawai‘i News Now, KHON, KITV, and Think Tech Hawai‘i. Wake and Wander Hawai‘i has been featured on Hawai‘i News Now and in Civil Beat. Will has been to more than 70 countries on assignment. He is a former assistant editor at Conde Nast and his travel-related contributions have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR, Travel Channel, Forbes Travel Guide, Outside Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Men’s Journal, AAA, TravelAge West, Travel Weekly, Paste Magazine, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Inspirato Magazine, Elevation Outdoors, the Brewer’s Association, and Sherman’s Travel, among many others. He writes regularly for Frolic Hawai‘i.