CREST Newsletter | January - March 2017

Coastal Tourism Books Released

CREST is pleased to announced that Business Expert Press and CREST have co-published two volumes entitled  Coastal Tourism, Sustainability, and Climate Change in the Caribbean. Volume I is focused on Hotels and Beaches and Volume II on Supporting Activities:  Golf, Sustainable Food Sourcing, and Airlines & Airports. The volumes contain essays and case studies by 33 different experts that look at how climate change is impacting coastal tourism in the Caribbean, and how tourism businesses are providing solutions. The volumes are edited by Martha Honey and Samantha Hogenson.

Two companion volumes on marine tourism will be published shortly.  These four volumes grew out of the 2015 Think Tank on Climate Change and Coastal & Marine Tourism, which CREST and the Grupo Puntacana Foundation hosted in Puntacana, Dominican Republic. The books are designed for tourism professionals and academics. The books are with the printer now and will be available in eBook form and in hard copy starting next week, from the Business Expert Press website. CREST will release additional information about ordering the books when it becomes available.

CREST Expands Projects in Cuba

In February, CREST Executive Director Martha Honey spent a week in Cuba, working on several CREST projects. She represented CREST on one of four themed panels (sustainable tourism, energy, agriculture, and finance) at a two-day forum in Havana to officially launch the “Research Initiative for the Sustainable Development of Cuba” (RISDoC). RISDoC’s core members include four Cuban and five international institutions, including CREST. RISDoC is designed to undertake projects and studies, organize forums and conferences, and provide exchanges and apprenticeship opportunities to Cubans in the four target areas of sustainable development. The forum, organized by the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation, was attended by some one hundred officials and experts from government agencies, academia, NGOs, and civil society.

Martha also met with the Cuban research team working with international experts on a CREST study of “Cruise Tourism: Lessons Learned from Other Destinations.”  Our Cuban research team is headed by Dr. J.L. Perello of the University of Havana’s Tourism Faculty, and also includes Professor Rafael Betancourt who is CREST’s main local organizer in Cuba; Wendy Gonzalez, a graduate studdent in tourism at the University of Havana; and Niurka Cruz, an investigator with Plan Maestro in the Havana Historian’s Office.  In addition to the Cuban experts, researchers from Costa Rica, Mexico, Jamaica, and the U.S. are also involved in the study which is looking at the environmental, social, and economic impacts of cruise tourism on ports of call, mainly in the Americas. A draft of the study will be completed in April. CREST and its partners are planning to present the report at a forum in Havana in early June.

In addition, Martha met with Dr. Carlos Cesar Torres, Director, and Dr. Jorge Freddy Ramirez, tourism professor, at GEDELTUR (Centro de Estudios de Gerencia, Desarrollo Local & Turismo) at the University of Pinar del Rio, who invited CREST to assist in organizing a conference on sustainable tourism. The conference will be held June 13-15 in the provincial town of Vinales. Based on the agenda agreed upon by CREST and GEDELTUR, CREST has since invited some 15  international experts to speak at the conference. CREST is also sponsoring ten Cuban participants and assisting with various other aspects of the conference. The “International Workshop on Marketing and Sustainable Tourism” is open to non-Cubans. For more information and registration ($285 for the conference) please contact: Dr. Carlos Cesar Torres, carlosc@upr.edu.cu or mardeltur@upr.edu.cu. Tel. in Cuba: (53)48779361  or (53)54406301.

In January, CREST led its third Charter Club Trip to the island in parternship with Cuba Educational Travel. 15 travelers participated in the small-group experiential learning trip, visiting Havana, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Zapata Swamp.

Third Year of Indigenous Tourism Project Underway in Chihuahua

In late February and early March, CREST project director Ximena Alvis, CREST’s local project manager Laura Barragán, and Mauricio Miramontes, director of the Chiapas-based NGO Mano del Mono, spent eight days in Chihuahua, Mexico conducting workshops with the indigenous communities of Huitosachi and Bacajipare. This project is designed to develop “tourism experiences” with these two Raramuri communities who live in and near the Cooper Canyon, a spectacular natural wonder and popular tourist destination.  The community meetings were facilitated by Patricia Martinez and Ilsel Loera from CONTEC, the local NGO which is part of the CREST-led project. 

The meetings In Huitosachi focused on coordinating and finalizing the staffing and pricing for a “cooking experience” which will be run by community women and will feature preparation of traditional Raramuri dishes. CREST and the women reviewed plans for construction of the kitchen and installing the equipment by the end of May. Committee members are overseeing the building, decoration, and organization of the kitchen. 

In Bacajipare, the meetings focused on constructing two hiking trails, developing interpretation materials, and training community tour guides, with the aim of completing the trails by early June.  Miramontes will return in April and May for further training of community members involved in running the experiences.  Both communities plan to begin offering their tourism experiences to visitors this coming summer.

In addition, Alvis and her team had meetings in Chihuahua City and Creel with the project’s two funders, The Christensen Fund and the office of Chihuahua’s Secretary of Tourism, to discuss progress to date and steps for the next six months. The state’s Tourism Director Ivonne Barriga and her team offered to help with designing and printing materials and developing a website for marketing these community-based tourism experiences. In addition, the director of the Cooper Canyon Adventure Park also offered to help with printing materials for the hiking trails.

Field Work in the Gheralta Region of Tigrai Province, Ethiopia, Completed

In February, two CREST consultants, Nilan Cooray and Lisa Shekede,  spent two weeks in the Gheralta region of Tigrai province, Ethiopia examining the condition of 16 of the region’s historically significant rock-hewn churches.  Dr. Cooray, from Sri Lanka, is an expert on World Heritage Sites and on the conservation of historic buildings, and Lisa Shekede, from the U.K, is an expert on conservation of wall paintings. They worked with a team of Ethiopians from the Tigrai Culture and Tourism Bureau to assess the condition of the churches and begin the process of nominating the rock-hewn churches for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

In addition to providing on the job training for their Ethiopian counterparts, the two consultants also conducted large and successful workshops with local church leaders, government officials, academics, and community leaders.  Abraha Welday, director of the Tourism Bureau and the local official in charge of  the mission, declared his satisfaction with the work of the CREST experts: “We had the most successful field mission I have ever seen.” The CREST consultants are now preparing the draft UNESCO nomination as well as separate reports on the preventive conservation measures required to conserve the Gheralta churches and their wall paintings. This project is part of a larger technical assistance project designed to conserve the cultural landscape of Gheralta, increase sustainable tourism, and create jobs in the region. Last year CREST produced a tourism map of the leading churches to be used in promoting tourism.

Save the Date: September 27, 2017, World Tourism Day

CREST is organizing a major forum in Washington, DC to commemorate the UN’s 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Together with partner organizations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme, we plan to hold this event on World Tourism Day, Wednesday, September 27. We will post details on the CREST website and send them out via eBlast and social media as soon as they are available.

Sharing Experience, Providing Knowledge

  • February 9, 2017: Executive Director Martha Honey co- led a webinar entitled “Protecting Our Marine Treasures: Sustainable Finance Options for US Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)” together with Brian Baird, Director of Oceans at the Bay Institute and Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. The webinar covered the main findings in a new report on financing MPAs, which was researched and written by members of the expert advisory panel to NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) National MPA Center. Both Honey and Baird are members of the advisory panel and they chaired the sub-committee that produced the report. View the report here.

2017 Trends & Statistics Report: Call for Submissions

CREST is preparing to release our 5th annual "Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics" report near Earth Day in April. This year the focus will be on the UN’s declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and we will share responsible travel trends and examples in the five areas of focus identified through the International Year:

  • Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
  • Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction
  • Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
  • Cultural values, diversity and heritage
  • Mutual understanding, peace and security

Each year, CREST takes the lead on putting together this meta-analysis, and we collaborate with highly regarded industry partners to compile and disseminate the report. View the 2016 report here. If you would like to submit factoids for consideration for the 2017 edition, please send them to shogenson@responsibletravel.org with sources by Friday, April 7.

Join Our Next Charter Club Trip: Crete, July 10 - 16, 2017

There is still time to sign up for CREST's distinctive Charter Club seminar in Crete! We are partnering with Crete's Culinary Sanctuaries to join resident specialists on an extraordinary journey exploring archaeological sites, organic farms and vineyards, nature reserves, fishing ports, and artisan food shops and traditional tavernas. We'll have cooking demonstrations and stay in beautifully restored lodging in historic villages. The seminar trip is ideal for travelers, professionals, or academics interested in agri and culinary tourism experiences!

Registration is due by April 12. To learn more, view the itinerary, and/or register, visit our website.


Interested in an Eastern Cuba Trip???

Building on the success of three small-group Charter Club Trips to Cuba since January 2016, CREST is working with Cuba Educational Travel to offer a new trip to the Eastern side of the island, visiting Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, Guantanamo city, and Holguín. The trip will be in November 2017. The itinerary is currently being finalized, and information will be released in the coming weeks.

CREST Charter Club trips are open to anyone who would like to connect with destinations and their people on a deeper level. The next Cuba trip will feature meetings with locals, cultural and nature-based tourism experiences, and accommodation in locally owned casas particulares. If you are interested in traveling with us to Eastern Cuba, please fill out this Expression of Interest, and we will be sure to keep you updated!

CARE for the Cape Day 2017

CREST is the fiscal sponsor for an incredible travelers' philanthropy program in Cape Cod called CARE for the Cape & Islands. As a travelers’ philanthropy initiative, CARE seeks to encourage, support, and create opportunities for local businesses, residents, and visitors to donate their “time, talent, and treasure” to help preserve and protect the very things people travel there to see and enjoy: exquisite natural beauty, plant and wildlife habitats, and Cape & Islands culture and history. CARE was founded and is directed by Jill Talladay, and we are proud to share that 2017 is CARE's 5th anniversary!

CARE provides small grants to local projects to support the Cape's environment and cultural heritage. They also hold give-back events to engage the community. This year, CARE will be hosting their annual CARE Day on May 10th, at Woods Hole Nobska Light. Participants will have an opportunity to work side by side as CARE aids in the preservation and beautification of this historic Lighthouse.  CARE's 2017 grants will be presented at the conclusion of activities.

Are you a resident or visitor of the Cape? Get involved! More information about CARE Day and the registration link are available here.

CREST Auctions: Why They're Important and Thank You to Our Valentine's Day Donors!

CREST is almost entirely funded by grant funding, on a project basis. While this is a great model for us and allows us to serve our projects in the best way possible, the funding schedule can at times be sporadic. We host our four travel auctions a year to fill the gaps in our funding, which allows us to do things like host interns from all over the world to teach and encourage the next generation of sustainable tourism professionals, produce four books on climate change and coastal & marine tourism, research and release our annual widely used "Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics," speak at events to further education and awareness about responsible travel, collaborate with universities through our Academic Affiliates program, and produce films such as our 2016 educational documentary Caribbean 'Green' Travel: Your Choices Make a Difference. Internally funded projects like these are vital to furthering the vision of CREST, to transform the way the world travels, and they would not be possible without donations from travel businesses for our quarterly travel auctions. In all honesty, they would not be possible. In this, the UN's International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, spreading knowledge about responsible travel is more important than ever.

That's why we are so grateful to our past and present donors, and want to extend a special thank you to our Valentine's Day auction donors: Soneva, Tierra Hotels, Golden Door, Laguna Lodge, Meadowood Napa Valley, Inn by the Sea, Emerson Inn, Yacutinga Lodge, Amerian Portal del Iguazu, and Coco Collection. We are so appreciative!

2016 was a record-breaking year for CREST in our auction series, and we'd like to break that record again in 2017. Are you a hotel, tour operator, airline, small cruise line, or attraction that is doing really incredible projects in your communities or implementing noteworthy sustainability initiatives? We'd love to include you in our next auction, which will surround Earth Day, April 18 – May 2. We already have Micato Safaris, Bodhi Surf School, Island Outpost, the Pavilions Himalayas, and Playa Viva on board, but we need to add more wonderful vacation packages. Will you join us? In exchange for your participation, we'll showcase your company and initiatives on our auction host site, www.charitybuzz.com, which gets over 600,000 unique views per month. We'll also send out the auction information to our network of over 14,000 who are interested in responsible travel, and post about your company's work on our social media networks.

To participate, please contact CREST managing director Samantha Hogenson at shogenson@responsibletravel.org by April 4.

Platinum Sponsor Spotlight: Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Named Green Globe's Most Sustainable Hotel in the World

Continuing our Platinum Sponsor spotlight series, this month we talked with Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Aruba about their sustainability journey. Get to know this deep green company, which proves that being a good steward doesn't mean sacrificing quality or success. If you'd like to learn more, Bucuti is featured in our 2016 film Caribbean 'Green' Travel: Your Choices Make a Differenceand soon to be released book Climate Change, Coastal Tourism, and Sustainability: Volume I.

CREST: Bucuti & Tara's founder/CEO, Ewald Biemans, is a visionary and has integrated sustainability into construction, design, operations, management, and company culture since the beginning. Why was incorporating sustainability into the business model important from Bucuti's founding in 1987?

Bucuti: “Tourism is not in the tourism business, Aruba is in the nature business. As without our unspoiled nature there is no tourism.” This quote from Ewald Biemans embodies the philosophy of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort and has since the beginning.

Bucuti’s story began in the 1980s when Ewald, a nature lover, began to see signs of a concerning future for the island he fell in love with years ago. As tourism increased and foreign labor arrived, he saw a drastic increase of trash and waste that was beginning to harm Aruba’s delicate ecosystem. In turn, it was beginning to affect the tourism-dependent island’s economy.

With the development of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in 1987, Biemans sought to prove that a memorable vacation experience and sustainable tourism can be mutually inclusive and a successful way of doing business. Soon after opening, he listened to guests’ concerns about the use of plastic (Aruba still to this day does not recycle plastic) and realized that others, too, shared his growing worry as well as commitment to doing things differently.

Biemans’ passionate concern for the wellbeing of his guests and nature is reflected in every unique aspect of Bucuti. Each environmental and guest-focused initiative builds upon one another, compounding to create a greater impact.

Today, those comprehensive environmental initiatives have significantly reduced greenhouse gases, improved air quality, reduced waste and the impact on landfills, and reduced pollution in general to protect marine wildlife, including protecting a safe nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles. Since early 2016, Bucuti teamed up with island veterinarians to help solve the island problem of pet overpopulation by helping to fund a spay and neutering program that to-date has helped 4,200 dogs and cats. As a recognized sustainable tourism pioneer, Ewald continues his mission to protect Aruba’s nature and to motivate and teach others that the only solution is to work together to make the difference.

All the while, the resort continues to listen to its guests and enhance the vacation experience achieving a year-round occupancy rate exceeding 90% and 65% repeat guest rate. The first time guests see the in-room television sustainability channel and hear Bucuti staff share the resort’s commitment to the environment, they realize their beautiful vacation on one of the “Dream Beaches of the World” is even richer and more dynamic than imagined.

CREST: Bucuti & Tara is internationally renowned as one of the most romantic hotels in the Caribbean and even the world, and at the same time was named the most sustainable hotel in the world by Green Globe in October 2016. How has Bucuti managed to balance luxury and environmental friendliness?

Bucuti: Bucuti is indeed the proud recipient of TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice Award as the No. 1 Hotel for Romance in the Caribbean while being named by Green Globe as the Most Sustainable Hotel/Resort in the World in fall 2016. Instead of seeing these as standalone accolades, Bucuti sees these as working together in harmony. Most guests coming to adults-only Bucuti savor the tranquil, romantic atmosphere. People who are in love are happy people who want to do good things for one another. Joining the resort’s sustainability initiatives is natural and they take pleasure in knowing they are preserving this resort that is special to them so that they may return to it as well as others. Bucuti has created a luxurious experience that is sustainable without sacrificing any quality.

CREST: Bucuti has won numerous environmental awards and obtained a number of certifications. Why is becoming certified useful in the journey towards sustainability? What would you recommend for smaller hotels that may not be able to afford or keep up with certification-required guidelines and recommendations?

Bucuti: Bucuti is honored to hold the most eco-certifications in the Caribbean. The resort sees these certifications as a crucial part of the sustainability journey because they provide rigorous requirements and high standards reflecting the ultimate best practices. The certifications serve as guidelines that Bucuti incorporates into its planning and operating procedures.

At first glance for smaller hotels, going green may appear cost-prohibitive. Ultimately, the alternative is disasterous. Bucuti’s advice is to start small. Begin with a single initiative such as decrease laundry by replacing linens by request during a guest’s stay, and as a long-range goal work toward implanting double-up laundry water recycling. At Bucuti, this saves the resort 400,000 gallons of water a year. Starting small can also begin with reducing dependence on electricity such as switching lightbulbs over to LED lights that use less energy and last significantly longer, which also eventually reduces expenses. Eventually, small steps lead to bigger initiatives such as installing solar panels to heat water, a practice that supplies Bucuti with 100 gallons of hot water each day without having to use electricity.

Some certifications have multiple levels. Steadily work up level by level. Every step makes a difference. Ask for help. Bucuti welcomes to help anyone at any step along the way of the sustainability journey. Everyone is in this together.

CREST: How does Bucuti involve the guest in the sustainability journey? Why is that important?

Bucuti: Reaching that peak position of "World's Most Sustainable Hotel/Resort" is only made possible with guest involvement, which is only natural considering everyone must work together to take care of the environment. A few of Bucuti's popular guest initiatives include:

  1. Stainless steel logo water bottles – Upon check-in, guests receive reusable drinking bottles for use throughout the resort, which has multiple water stations in addition to the high-quality tap water. Since Aruba does not recycle plastic on-island, by banning disposable water bottles on the resort, Bucuti (94% year round occupancy, 104-rooms) keeps approximately 283k disposable water bottles per year from ending up in the island’s landfill.
  1. Monthly beach clean-up – On the third Wednesday of every month, guests are invited to team up with resort staff to help clean up Bucuti’s beachfront home, Eagle Beach. Known as one of the “Dream Beaches of the World,” Eagle Beach is also home to the natural nesting habitat for endangered leatherback sea turtles. Guests and staff patrol the beach freeing it from debris and obstacles that could impair the turtles’ habitat or even blow into the ocean and hurting other marine life. This initiative removes 500 lbs. of waste from the beach every year and happens to help build camaraderie, as well.
  2. Green Stay Program – Guests can opt into the Green Stay Program, which reduces housekeeping services to twice weekly and conserves water, energy and supplies.
  3. Pack for a Purpose – Bucuti is a proud member of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers make a lasting impact in the community at their travel destination.  If guests save just a few kilos of space in their suitcase, when they travel to Aruba, and bring supplies for a children’s home in need they make a priceless impact in the lives of local children. Bucuti works with Children’s home Imeldahof.  The home offers shelter and guidance to boys and girls (ages 6-12) who, due to circumstances, cannot live with their parents or caregivers. Supplies needed are: arts & crafts, books, notebooks, games, puzzles, PlayStation3 games, teen magazines. Please click here for more information on Pack for a Purpose. Guests bring their gift items to our front desk at Bucuti, and resort staff delivers them to Imeldahof once a month.

Bucuti’s in-room channel is actually environmentally-focused, helping to set the precedence for guests. One additional initiative is Bucuti revamped its menus last year to provide guests a healthier dining experience and as a byproduct, it immediately reduced waste ultimately lessening its carbon footprint by up to 30%.

CREST: Differing from many Caribbean luxury hotels, Bucuti is not an all-inclusive resort. Why was this decision made, and has the surrounding community benefited from this model?

Bucuti: Bucuti offers “no surprise pricing” that is packed with value and flexibility. The resort’s pricing includes the room rate, taxes and service charge, a full American breakfast, WiFi, use of iPad throughout stay and local calls. Guests may also enjoy à la carte dining onsite for lunch and dinner at Elements or enjoy a chef’s table dinner at Carte Blanche, both are two of Aruba’s top restaurants. Bucuti is proud of its island home and encourages guests to go off property and experience local restaurants. Bucuti also participates in the Dine Around program where guests can purchase a Dine Around Plan and enjoy a three-course dinner in a choice of 20 member restaurants of the Aruba Gastronomic Association for $50.00 per person, per day (inclusive of tax and service charge). This allows the benefits of tourism to be felt throughout the community.

CREST: It is clear that operating your resort in an environmentally and socially responsible way is good for business. What message do you have for other tourism enterprises that may have not yet started or are just beginning their sustainability journey?

Bucuti: Yes, it is! Sustainability is a pillar to the Bucuti experience. Our guests appreciate this approach and many remark that Bucuti’s deep commitment to sustainability is a factor in selecting the resort for their vacation experience as it aligns with their values. Contrary to popular belief that being green is cost-prohibitive, Bucuti has found that its energy conservation initiatives have reduced operating costs. This allows the resort to pass along some savings to guests by maintaining reasonable rates. In some cases, such as with the healthy portions dining initiative, revenue has actually increased.

Financially, investing in sustainable solutions sometimes costs a bit more up front, however savings are realized along the way as materials last longer. Ultimately, Bucuti passes along savings to its guests by keeping our rates reasonable and free of any additional fees such as unpopular resort fees.

Begin by knowing it is 100% worth starting the sustainability journey. Like Bucuti, start small. Begin with one initiative, add a second and soon it will compound. Engage the entire staff because offering a sustainable tourism experience is not an item on a checklist, rather it’s woven into the culture of the team. This is an exciting approach knowing a difference is being made and everyone shares in the greatest reward – protecting the world everyone shares.


New Platinum Sponsor: Bodhi Surf School

We are stoked to welcome Bodhi Surf School in Costa Rica as a new Platinum Sponsor in 2017! Bodhi Surf has been identified as an outstanding steward of Mother Earth, and they accepted our invitation to join the Platinum Sponsors category. This means they have agreed to help support CREST through our fundraising auctions for the next five years. Bodhi Surf School is the first B Corp Certified surf and yoga camp in the world. They are located at the footsteps of a 13,300 acre marine national park in the community of Bahia Ballena, in southern Costa Rica, and use yoga, surfing, community engagement, and travelers’ philanthropy as tools to foster increases in pro-environmental behaviors in guests and the local community. The staff believes Bodhi Surf should serve as an example that inspires others — individuals and businesses alike — to be conscientious of their own impact and take meaningful action to reduce their footprint. Learn more about their inspiring work at https://www.bodhisurfschool.com/.


Global Ecotourism Survey: Your Participation Requested

"Ecotourism." We hear this word a lot these days.  But what does it mean? Does it still mean what it used to? And if ecotourism is the fastest growing form of tourism, how do we make sure it lives up to its potential as a positive tool for people and nature? Many people are asking these same questions today.

With the help of a dozen industry experts, a researcher from Yale just launched a survey to collect information about the state of the industry and find answers to these questions. Hopefully, this survey will help to decipher what the global tourism network believes is needed to help ecotourism work better for everyone. It may also be the start to a globally collaborative initiative for ecotourism that many people have called for. 

Please take and share this survey at your convenience. It takes 7-8 minutes to complete and is available in English, Spanish, and French. Your responses will make a difference. 

Find the survey here: Global Ecotourism Industry Survey

Call for Submissions: Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards

Skål International is an Affiliate Member of the UNWTO whose mission is to promote the development of responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism. Following the UN declaration of 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism, Skål launched the Sustainable Tourism Awards in the same year to highlight and acknowledge best practices around the globe. According to Skål, "Now in its 16th year, the Sustainable Tourism Awards, while highlighting best practices in tourism around the world, also serve the purpose of acquainting the world with this new concept that puts emphasis on the importance of the interaction of the physical, cultural and social environment, the traveller's responsibility and the need for active community participation for Sustainability."

Submissions are now open for the 2017 Sustainable Tourism Awards. Any public agencies, private companies, or civil organizations globally are welcome to submit an entry in any of the nine available categories:

  • Tour Operators
  • Urban Accommodation
  • Rural Accommodation
  • Transportation
  • Countryside and Wildlife
  • Marine
  • Community and Government Projects
  • Major Tourist Attractions
  • Educational Institutions/Programmes and Media

The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2017. For more information, visit https://www.skal.org/en/sustainableguidelines or contact Sandra Vera at sandra.vera@skal.org.

Travelers' Philanthropy Spotlight

Intrepid Travel has long been known as one of the most responsible tour operators in the business, focusing on small group experiential travel. They give back to the communities they visit, carbon offset their trips, have a robust animal welfare policy, and live sustainable travel every single day. In December 2016, Intrepid ran a Travel for Good campaign where they contributed 10% of all sales to four Intrepid Foundation projects. Through the campaign, they were able to donate over $150,000 to Blue Dragon, Kusimayo, Pollinate Energy, and Friends of the Asian Elephants. Inspired by Intrepid’s  commitment to donate 10% of the trip to these projects, some travelers even added on extra donations to the Foundation.
Keep up the good work, Intrepid Travel!

Supporting projects for the benefit of communities and the environment is an opportunity every tourism business has and should harness to keep our world's places healthy. Need some ideas? Review Intrepid's website, for starters. And we would be happy to hear from you if you'd like to establish your own responsible travel programs!

Academic Affiliate Spotlight: Boston University and Purdue University Research Partnership

CREST Academic Affiliates, Dr. Makarand Mody of Boston University and Dr. Jonathon Day of Purdue University have partnered to conduct much-needed research on consumers of responsible tourism, asking the questions:

1) What are consumer motivations for responsible tourism? Can we create segments of these consumers based on their motivations?

2) What are the drivers of their loyalty towards responsible tourism operators?

The study looking at question one was published in 2014, and the study of question two is currently under journal review. Here are brief synopses of the studies:

Study 1:

"The different shades of responsibility: Examining domestic and international travelers' motivations for responsible tourism in India"

Researchers conducted a survey of travelers of five responsible tourism operators in India: The Blue Yonder (TBY), Grassroutes, Help Tourism, Grass Routes (Orissa), and Kipepeo. They found nine different motivation factors underlying their decision to participate in responsible tourism, and labeled these as Nature, Responsible Operator (the pull of a responsible operator who provides a meaningful connection with a destination), RuralityResponsibility (the desire to make a difference), Escape, Personal Development (self discovery and growth), Family (bonding), Socialization, and Travel Bragging (telling others about their travels).

Researchers then used these motivations to create segments of travelers and found three key segments, which were labeled the Responsibles, Socializers, and Novelty Seekers. While the Responsibles, who were mainly international travelers, were motivated by a desire to give back to the communities they visit and have a positive economic, social, and environmental impact through their travels, for the Socializers the opportunity to bond with family and friends and meet new and interesting people was the most important. For the Novelty Seekers, it was wanting to travel in a way beyond the cookie-cutter, and do things they have never done before. The Socializers and Novelty Seekers were mainly domestic visitors in India. These findings have important implications for responsible travel operators, highlighting the range of motivations that they must cater to. While responsibility is important, other motivations cannot be ignored. Also, they must recognize that travelers will want more of certain things depending on which segment they belong to, and the operators' products/itineraries and their communications (the language they use, for example) must reflect these differences. Researchers also used a range of demographic indicators to profile these segments, and these provide rich information that can be used to target and communicate with specific groups, at least in the Indian context.

Study 2:

For this study, researchers are using a framework from marketing and international business -- Product Country Image (PCI) -- to build a model that explains travelers' loyalty towards responsible tourism operators. The PCI framework has been found to hold true in many different product/service scenarios. Broadly, it states that the image of a country impacts (favorable/unfavorably) the images of the products/brands from that country. So, for example, German car brands benefit from Germany's favorable image as a technologically advanced country that manufactures high quality products. These image related benefits then have subsequent implications for customers' decisions to choose certain products/brands, and whether they will be attitudinally and behaviorally loyal to those products/brands. 

Mody and Day's teams were examining whether this logic holds in the context of responsible travel as well. Data collection is the same as for the above study 1: researchers surveyed travelers to the five responsible tourism operators in India: The Blue Yonder (TBY), Grassroutes, Help Tourism, Grass Routes (Orissa), and Kipepeo. They found the relationships in the model to hold in the case of responsible travel as well, i.e. a favorable image of India as a travel destination has positive spill over effects on the images of the responsible travel operators in the country. In turn, travelers in the sample became more attitudinally and behaviorally loyal to these operators. Not only did they talk about these operators more favorably to others but they had also traveled multiple times with these operators. The major implication for operators is that they need to leverage the positive image of the country in which they are located in their communications with travelers. There needs to be a closer integration between the domestic and international promotion of a country as a tourism destination and that of its responsible tourism product. When travelers view a country as a favorable destination they travel to, then this has a positive spill over on how the operators are perceived. There needs to be coordinated country-responsible tourism branding campaigns to remain competitive in a crowded global arena.

New Company Spotlight: Subcultours

Traveling and looking for a way to connect with a city’s creative crowd? For the creative and culture-craving spirits out there, Emily Simmons, one of our past interns, is now working for a really cool responsible travel start-up in Costa Rica and Germany, and we'd like to share it with you. Consider checking out subcultours, an international online platform that connects travelers with the local artists and creative entrepreneurs that shape the subcultures of their country. In a world where globalization and international travel reign, subcultours is an exciting way to both discover and preserve the beauty and wonder of culturally diverse peoples all over the world.  With experiences available in Costa Rica and Germany (surfboard shaping, specialty coffee brewing, electronic music mixing, craft beer making…), subcultours hopes to continue expanding and connecting the creative crowd across the globe. Listen to the company's story, and check out a preview of what you can expect.

Meet Our Spring Volunteers & Interns

This semester, we have two passionate, creative, and phenomenally smart young ladies working with us to help advance the mission of CREST and learn more about this transformative industry:

Eugene Kim: A California native and graduate of U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Davis School of Law, Eugene is currently on sabbatical in Spain, where she is working at a bilingual public school in Madrid.  Previously, Eugene worked as a policy advocate for nonprofit organizations to promote sustainable agriculture, local food systems, and healthy food access in underserved communities. While sustainability and community development are important to Eugene, her interest in those areas extends, ultimately, to the preservation and empowerment of local places and communities. As an avid traveler in North America and beyond, a former volunteer English teacher in Ecuador, a hiking and outdoor enthusiast, and an active participant in online travel communities, among other things, Eugene has a deep interest in promoting community development and sustainability through volunteering, educational exchange, outdoor adventures, gastronomy, the arts, and the sharing economy. She is excited to be a part of CREST's efforts and aims to move her professional life into the world of sustainable travel.

Jessica McCommon: Jessica is currently in her last semester at the College of Charleston, graduating in May of 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and Business Administration. She first became interested in sustainable tourism through involvement with Global Brigades voluntourism in Honduras. Global Brigades works with impoverished villages to promote sustainable long term development, teaching volunteers the importance of sustainability and the necessary protection of host communities. Jessica also spent last year completing an international exchange program at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands. She spent that year studying European culture and international humanitarian action, while also taking advantage of the opportunity to travel while abroad. Visiting over a dozen countries and meeting people from all over the world spurred Jessica’s passion for global travel and commitment to protecting the many natural treasures of the world that traditional tourism threatens to overtake.

Jessica hopes to continue traveling throughout her career, and believes that involvement with sustainable tourism will allow her to have a positive impact on vulnerable destinations as well as future travelers. She is currently conducting an independent study on the development of sustainable tourism in Cuba in the wake of lifted U.S. travel restrictions, and is increasingly interested in CREST’s work in Cuba and the Caribbean.  She plans to continue her education through post-graduate coursework in sustainability policy and international sustainable tourism management. She strives towards goals of working internationally with sustainability policy for underdeveloped countries. Jessica is thrilled with the opportunity to be involved with CREST, and looks forward to a future in this industry. 

Jessica recently completed a study tour of wine tourism in Napa with her class. Learn more about the growth of wine tourism and sustainable tourism opportunities and challenges through Jesse's informative essay.

CREST in the News

  • March 16, 2017: "Why Working in Sustainable Tourism Can Make the World A Better Place":  This article from the Master's Studies website, a resource for graduate students and prospective graduate students, provides several reasons for why working in sustainable tourism can make the world a better place.  The article discusses findings from CREST's "The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics 2016."
  • February 1, 2017: "Visit the World's Most Fragile Wonders Before It's Too Late":  This Forbes article recommends six last-chance tourism destinations to visit in 2017, destinations that may disappear due to the impacts of climate change and other man-made phenomena, such as dams.  The article highlights CREST's Samantha Hogenson's thoughts from a 2016 Sierra Club article, "The Paradox of 'Last Chance Tourism'." 
  • January 6, 2017: "Where Sustainable Travel is Headed in 2017": The mainstreaming of sustainability? In this brief overview of sustainable travel, where it stands and what's to come, four travel industry sectors are highlighted: airlines, cruise ships, tour operators, and hotels. The article quotes CREST's Martha Honey on changes among airlines and tour operators towards greater sustainability.
  • December 14, 2016: "AirBnB Now Offers "Social Impact Experiences": How Much Good Will They Do?": Among AirBnB's new offerings of "Experiences" with locals is the "Social Impact Experience," where travelers can learn about the work of local nonprofits through several days of activities, and the nonprofits benefit by being able to showcase their work and receive financial support from the fees paid for the experience.  The article examines the recent rise of charitable tourism and references CREST's "The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics 2016" for its discussion of the various types of tourism that do good.  In looking at the challenges of these types of travel experiences, the article quotes CREST's Samantha Hogenson and references CREST's Traveler's Philanthropy guide.

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