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Travelers Philanthropy Conference, December 3-5, 2008 in Arusha, Tanzania

The Center for Responsible Travel, then CESD, organized this international conference with a focus on Travelers’ Philanthropy opportunities and issues in Africa. By bringing participants together in Arusha, Tanzania, December 3-5, 2008, CESD's goal was to promote and strengthen this emerging form of development assistance generated by travelers and the tourism industry.

Making Travelers Philanthropy Work for Development, Business, and Conservation

Tanzania, a world leader in ecotourism, and Arusha as the gateway to Mt. Kilimanjaro and the northern safari circuit including the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, provided an ideal venue for this conference. The Tanzania conference built upon the initial international Travelers’ Philanthropy conference held at Stanford University in the USA in 2004. It was our hope to shine a light on community development and conservation issues in this thriving tourism area, and to provide a venue for African stakeholders to come to the table.

The three-day conference in Arusha brought together 230 practitioners from socially responsible tourism businesses, experts in the field of sustainable tourism and philanthropy, community based organizations and global and regional NGOs doing development work, the United Nations and other development agencies, philanthropic foundations, government, and the media. A growing number of leading tourism businesses, organizations, and international agencies also co-sponsored this important conference.

The 2008 Travelers’ Philanthropy Conference provided a venue for collective learning and exchange among the group of global participants. It facilitated discussion of the tools and capacity needed for effectively establishing, managing and evaluating community projects. The stated goal of the conference was to move Travelers’ Philanthropy from a mere set of ideals to applied best practices.

More generally, the conference aimed to build media and public interest in socially responsible travel. The event included presentations on some of the leading Travelers’ Philanthropy initiatives around the world, as well as a range of optional safaris before and after the event, hosted by leading East African tour operators offering visits to community and conservation projects.

Check back soon for follow up materials from this event. To find out how you can become a sponsor of CESD's next Travelers' Philanthropy conference or another event, please contact Whitney Cooper at CESD's Washington, DC office:

Whitney Cooper, Program Associate
Tel: 202-347-9203 x414

Indigenous Ecotourism Conference, September 7-9, 2006 in Quito, Ecuador

To advance indigenous priorities within ecotourism certification standards, CESD organized a workshop in Quito, Ecuador from September 7-9, 2006 with indigenous leaders from eight countries in Latin America. Participants offered perspectives on ecotourism and certification from the viewpoint of their community's experiences, needs, and struggles. Discussions focused on the potential for ecotourism certification to advance indigenous rights, provide sustainable development, and minimize negative socio-cultural and environmental impacts.

The results of the workshop re-emphasized the need for tourism in indigenous territories to serve as a mechanism for the reinforcements of indigenous self-determination. Putting theory into practice, the representatives also initiated a groundbreaking network of indigenous tourism in the Americas. Already underway, this network is intended, first, to strengthen indigenous self-development and self-determination within the Americas through promotion of indigenous tourism sites, and second, to establish a certification system that will properly address indigenous rights and concerns in the Americas and beyond.

In order to follow through on these exceptional developments, the participants from the Quito workshop seek to reconvene in Chiapas, Mexico in 2007 in order to continue their work on ecotourism certification with discussion of specific certification criteria to better protect their communities and surrounding environments. This workshop in Mexico represents a crucial next step in the systematic incorporation of indigenous voices and leadership in the development of an international ecotourism network and certification system.

Click here for more information in English.

Conferencia de Ecoturismo Indigena, 7-9 de Septiembre de 2006 en Quito, Ecuador

Para avanzar prioridades indigenas dentro de certificacion de ecoturismo, CESD organizo un seminario en Quito, Ecuador desde el 7 al 9 de Septiembre de 2006 con lideres indigenas de ocho paises Latinoamericanos. Participantes dieron sus perspectivas sobre el rol de ecoturismo y certificacion para la luchas y necesidades de sus comunidades. Discusiones se enfocaron en la posibildad de avanzar derechos humanos y desarrollo sostenible y minimizar impactos negativos socio-culturales y ambientales por medio de ecoturismo y certificacion.

Los resultados del seminario enfatizaron que turismo en tierras indigenas necesita servir como un mecanismo para reforzar auto-determinacion indigena. Moviendo desde la teoria hasta la practica: los representantes tambien iniciaron un nuevo red indigena de turismo Latinoamericano. El proposito de este red es, primero, fortificar auto-desarrollo y auto-determinacion indigena dentro de las Americas por medio de la promocion de sitios turisticos indigenas; y segundo, establecer una sistema de certificacion que verdaderamente tomara en cuenta los derechos y perspectivas indigenas de las Americas y los alrededores.

Para seguir, los participantes del seminario de Quito desean convocar de nuevo en Chiapas, Mexico en 2007 para seguir conversando sobre los temas de ecoturismo y certificacion dentro de comunidades indigenas. Este seminario en Mexico representa un siguiente paso muy importante para incorporar la voz indigena en el desarrollo de un red internacional de ecoturismo y certificacion.

Click aqui para obtener mas informacion en Espanol.

Green Festival

September 24-25, 2005 in Washington, DC
Complete information at

CESD participated in the Washington DC Green Festival, a joint project of Global Exchange and Co-Op America. CESD's Executive Director, Martha Honey, moderated a panel on Responsible Tourism, and CESD Washington Coordinator Zoe Chafe spoke about what responsible travelers can do when they return from their travels.

Click here to see the presentation (PDF).

Ecotourism in the U.S. Conference

September 14-16, 2005 in Bar Harbor, Maine
Complete information at

CESD is pleased to support The International Ecotourism Society and the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce in hosting and organizing the first national conference on Ecotourism in the U.S. It will bring together top experts and practitioners to discuss a broad range of issues surrounding ecotourism practices in the United States and to develop an action plan promoting the U.S. as an ecotourism destination.

"While Americans are among the world's most avid ecotourists, the term 'ecotourism,' until recently has not been widely used within the U.S. - except in Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Virgin Islands," says TIES Executive Director Martha Honey. "Americans generally travel to other countries for their eco-holidays. However, over the last several years, there have been a growing number of important ecotourism initiatives within the continental U.S., including Maine, West Virginia, Vermont, Florida, Colorado, Oregon, and elsewhere."

The conference will feature tourism leaders representing industry, media, professional, and nonprofit groups to explore innovative solutions to ecotourism issues and trends. Utilizing plenary sessions along with in-depth concurrent workshops on a variety of educational opportunities, combined with social and networking opportunities, the conference will position participants on the cutting edge of this growing industry.

Goals and Objectives include:

  • Assess the range of ecotourism and sustainable tourism activities currently underway or under planning in the U.S
  • Promote in a more cohesive manner, ecotourism principles and practices at the national, state, and local levels.
  • Build collaboration among a wide variety of ecotourism practitioners and proponents within the United States.
  • Create a U.S. advisory group that, in collaboration with TIES, will promote education and awareness, build partnerships, and support sustainable tourism practices at the national, state, and local levels.
  • Draft and approve the "Bar Harbor Declaration" outlining the role and importance of ecotourism within the U.S.
  • Develop a strategy for marketing and promoting the U.S. as an emerging ecotourism destination.

Travelers' Philanthropy Conference 2004

The Travelers' Philanthropy Conference, which took place on the Stanford University campus April 12-15, 2004.brought together leaders of socially responsible travel businesses involved in corporate giving programs to support community projects in tourism destinations. Sponsored by the Center on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development (CESD), the conference was co-sponsored by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and Conservation International, as well as by a number of eco-tourism companies, and the Ford Foundation.

A half dozen keynote speakers addressed issues surrounding the impacts of externally-funded projects on local communities, Travelers' Philanthropy's relationship to national parks, lessons from United Nations development projects, the psychology of giving, and consumer demand for responsible tourism companies. One of the most provocative talks was given by David Abernethy, Stanford Professor Emeritus in Political Science, who discussed what can be unintended "bad consequences" that come from "doing good." Dr. Abernethy suggested criteria that travel companies undertaking charitable work should consider, such as partnering with well-established local NGOs.

William Barnett of Stanford's Graduate School of Business also gave a lively presentation on the likely trajectory and organizational challenges that will face Travelers' Philanthropy as it becomes a more visible social movement. And, on the final morning, William Durham, CESD Director at Stanford and Chair of the Department of Anthropological Sciences, challenged donors to choose projects that empower local communities, including ones that help them to maintain control over their land. "It was worth flying all the way from Australia just to hear one of these presentations by the Stanford faculty," commented one enthusiastic participant.

In the wake of the conference, CESD has received dozens of other unsolicited accolades. Just a few samples: "I am deeply inspired," wrote Nancy Rivard, President of Airline Ambassadors. Julie Snyder of READ Nepal called the conference "illuminating, inspiring and motivating, with an intriguing blend of people," while Dennis Pinto of Micato Safaris commended the organizers on "an exceptionally well-organized conference. You were brilliant!" Jane Crouch of Intrepid Travel in Australia wrote, "Most conferences I've been to - maybe if you're lucky 50% of the content is of relevance and interest. In this case I'd say 95%! It was fantastic!" Ok, enough…

This Travelers' Philanthropy conference evolved from two earlier gatherings - in November 2001 and September 2002 - organized by Michael Seltzer of Business Enterprises for Sustainable Travel (BEST). In a White Paper prepared for these meetings, Seltzer described Travelers' Philanthropy as providing "3 T's" of support - time, treasure and talent - to host communities. In mid-2003, when Seltzer left BEST, CESD assumed leadership of Travelers' Philanthropy and began preparations for a larger conference that would combine expertise from Stanford and other academic institutions, as well as travel businesses, foundations, government and the UN, NGOs, and host communities

Travelers' Philanthropy Conference: A Big Success

Conference participants endorsed a variety of follow up activities, and 11 people volunteered to be part of an expanded steering committee. In addition, Richard Weiss, of Weiss Associates in Berkeley, agreed to devote part of his time to running Travelers' Philanthropy. It was also decided that Travelers' Philanthropy would continue to maintain links to CESD, TIES and CI, but would develop its own, expanded website and set of activities. Those include publishing a book about Travelers' Philanthropy (using some of the conference presentations), online discussions (being organized by Peter Gibbs of Sea-Change in UK), producing a pamphlet and a "tool kit" on Travelers' Philanthropy, creating a list of experts who can work with companies starting philanthropic programs, doing media outreach, and creating a non-profit organization to handle donations from travelers and companies and funnel them into community projects. To this end, Richard Weiss established a new 501c(3), Travelers' Philanthropy Fund, under the auspices of the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, and opened a bank account in the name of the fund.

Those interested in more details about Travelers' Philanthropy should contact either Martha Honey ( or Laura Driscoll (

In addition, CDs of the presentations and conference packets and papers can be purchased for $25; conference participants can get the CD of presentations for $10. Please send payment to Laura Driscoll, CESD, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-2034. To learn more about the growing movement in and need for Travelers' Philanthropy globally, please see these documents on the subject:

White Paper Report (PDF)
Visitor Payback (PDF)

To learn more about the 2008 Travelers' Philanthropy conference to be held December 3-5 in Arusha, Tanzania, please click here.