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George H. S. Kanahele

Image of George H. S. Kanahele

If there is one person who can be credited with reconnecting Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry with the Hawaiian culture it is Dr. George Kanahele.  Energetic, charismatic, and determined, George relentlessly promoted the idea that tourism and the Hawaiian host culture not only could co-exist … but could thrive together.

George developed a remarkable intellectual foundation for his vision for Hawaiʻi and its tourism industry. Educated at the Kamehameha Schools, he received his Masters degree at Brigham Young University, and his PhD at Cornell University with scholastic honors.

George was a world traveler, living in Japan, Indonesia and Germany.  His travels allowed him to master numerous languages and to develop an appreciation for the world’s cultures.

He co-founded the Hawaiʻi Entrepreneurship Training and Development Institute, The Waiaha Foundation, and the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association.  These organizations continue to reshape Hawaiʻi tourism, building on the concepts that he developed.

George was equally effective working with government, industry, and the Hawaiian community. His book Kanaka incorporates his theories … and his 1994 report, Restoring Hawaiianness to Waikīkī  got down to specifics, with 143 recommendations for restoring Hawaiian culture to the state’s best known visitor destination.  He coined the term “Hawaiian sense of place” that is now part of the lexicon.

George consulted with many industry leaders.  His clients were global: the United Nations, Hawaiʻii State and County Governments, major hotel chains, Queen’s Medical Center and Disney.  George had a talent of educating while entertaining, something he referred to as “edu-taining.”  His impact continues to this day in the careers many successful business leaders that he trained.

The revitalized Waikīkī embodies George’s vision of a culturally rich Hawaiian experience — a lasting tribute to his legacy.

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