CREST Winter Newsletter | October - December 2016

Cuba: CREST's Portfolio Continues to Expand

During the last quarter of 2016, CREST’s research projects and educational programs related to sustainable tourism in Cuba continued to expand. In early October, Martha Honey and CREST consultant Jannelle Wilkins (who lives in Costa Rica) spent a week in Cuba giving lectures, conducting field research, and meeting with a range of academics and other Cuban experts.  At a highly successful event attended by some 80 invited guests and held at the Ludwig Foundation in Havana, Martha and Jannelle presented preliminary findings from CREST’s study on “Cruise Tourism: Lessons Learned from Other Destinations.” The forum and lively discussion which followed helped to sharpen research areas and questions to be covered in the CREST study.

The study, which is being carried out by a team of U.S. and Cuban researchers, looks at a range of economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of cruise tourism in the Caribbean and other key destinations. One of the purposes of the study, which is financed by the Ford Foundation, is to provide background information, data, and analysis to assist Cuban academics, tourism professionals, and government officials involved in developing and directing Cuba’s dynamic tourism sector.  The report is expected to be completed in March 2017, with an official release and small academic-based international conference planned for June.

In addition, CREST is continuing to pursue efforts to organize in 2017 an international conference on sustainable tourism to be held in Cuba as part of the United Nations’ declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. George Washington University and CREST, along with several Cuban institutions, are in active discussions about holding such a conference in late 2017.

In addition, CREST has received a small grant from the William Young Foundation, a family foundation in Connecticut, to set up a well-organized travelers’ philanthropy program in Cuba, which will receive material and financial donations and gifts from U.S. travelers to Cuba. The program will work, at least initially, with U.S. travelers visiting Cuba and people-to-people tours organized by U.S. tour operators. To date, donations to worthy projects in Cuba are often ad hoc and informal, and CREST and its partner are convinced that there is a need for a carefully crafted program that conforms to both Cuban and U.S. regulations. CREST is seeking another $20,000 to supplement the Young Foundation’s seed funding. For more information contact Martha Honey,

In November, CREST attended a meeting at the Ford Foundation in New York for grantees involved in projects in Cuba. The purpose of the meeting was to help grantees better understand the range of projects underway in Cuba and to encourage collaboration among grantees. CREST is already actively working with four other Ford grantees working on projects in Cuba. CREST’s October presentation at The Ludwig Foundation was, for instance, organized by Ford grantee Jasper Goldman.

Finally, the official launch of RISDoC (Research Institute for the Sustainable Development of Cuba) described in CREST’s September Newsletter, has been postponed from November 2016 to early February 2017. CREST, which is one of eight international and Cuban institutions involved in RISDoC, will participate in the February launch at the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation in Havana.

CREST's Continued Work with Indigenous Communities in Chihuahua, Mexico

CREST’s multi-year project to develop and launch a series of new “tourism experiences” with Raramuri indigenous communities living near Divisadera (Copper Canyon) in Chihuahua, Mexico continues to go well. In October, Ximena Alvis, CREST’s field project coordinator, together with our Chihuahua partners spent eight days conducting workshops with the community of Huitosachi. The goal of the training is to open a community-based kitchen serving traditional dishes and run by a group of women from Huitosachi.  The field work included a two-day trip for nine community ladies (with kids in tow) to the town of San Juanito, where they received cooking classes from a local chef at the Noritari Cabins.  This training proved very useful because the ladies saw a successful example of a traditional kitchen which, like theirs, lacks electricity and running water, but is able to cater to tourists. This kitchen was especially appealing and relevant because it has created an authentic atmosphere, in part through using traditional plants and food to decorate the kitchen.

Patricia Martinez and Diana Lobos, two staff from CONTEC, CREST’s local NGO partner in this project, were involved throughout the field work, helping Ximena to prepare for the training and meetings with the Huitosachi community. Together they compiled detailed lists of all the construction materials and equipment needed for the new kitchen in Huitosachi.

Between now and the end of February 2017, CREST and Mano del Mono, the Chiapas-based NGO which is also working on the project, will work with the Huitosachi community to build the kitchen. The community will be in charge of the construction, as well as equipping, decorating, and organizing the kitchen.

In November, Mano del Mono Director Mauricio Miramontes and his team conducted further training with Huitosachi and the community of Bacajipare, where the CREST project is helping to build a guided hiking trail.  Other tourism experiences to be offered by these two communities include artisan handicrafts and traditional ball games played  by indigenous men and women.

In early 2017, CREST and its partners will conduct familiarization trips for local tour operators to test the various tourism experiences. This CREST project, which began in early 2015 and is expected to continue through 2018, is funded by the Christensen Fund with additional support provided through the office of the Chihuahua Tourism Secretary.

CREST Collaborates on New NOAA Report

In November, the Marine Protected Areas’ Federal Advisory Committee (MPA/FAC) completed its report, Protecting Our Marine Treasures: Sustainable Finance Options for U.S. Marine Protected Areas. This report details a wide range of approaches that MPAs can use to raise additional external funds, beyond government appropriations. Martha Honey is one of some two dozen members appointed to the MPA/FAC, which includes a diverse range of scientists, academics, commercial fisherman, anglers, divers, state and tribal resource managers, and energy and tourism professionals. The MPA/FAC advises the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of the Interior on ways to strengthen the nation’s system of MPAs. Martha served as Vice Chair of the 7-person MPA/FAC sub-committee that produced this report.  In particular, she researched and wrote the section on tourism-related funding mechanisms which includes a case study of the CREST supported CARE for the Cape & Islands, a travelers’ philanthropy program led by Jill Talladay in Cape Cod, MA. The report will be officially released by NOAA's National MPA Center in early 2017.

CREST Set to Release Two Books: Coastal Tourism, Sustainability, & Climate Change

We are pleased to announce at the end of December, CREST will release the first two volumes in a four volume series on Coastal & Marine Tourism, Sustainability, and Climate Change in the Caribbean. All four volumes are being co-published by Business Expert Press and CREST.

The two volumes to be released in late 2016 focus on coastal tourism, while in the first half of 2017, CREST’s two marine tourism volumes will be published. The topics in the coastal tourism volumes include beaches and shorelines; resort siting, design, and construction; operations of coastal resort chains and independent boutique hotels; golf courses; locally grown and sustainable food production; and airports and airlines.

For each chapter, we discuss climate change impacts from and on the sector and best practices that can be applied to combat, adapt to, and mitigate climate change impacts. In total, some 50 experts contributed essays and case studies to this four volume series.

These books are the outcome of the 2015 Innovators Think Tank: Climate Change and Coastal & Marine Tourism, organized by CREST and the Puntacana Ecological Foundation. Contributing authors include attendees from the Think Tank and a number of other climate change and/or tourism experts and best-practice practitioners. The result will be a compilation of overview essays and case studies, designed to help coastal and marine tourism businesses, governments, and relevant organizations better address climate change through tourism development, management, and operations.

CREST executive director, Martha Honey, is the editor of the coastal volumes, while CREST academic affiliate and professor at the University of Maine, Kreg Ettenger, is the editor of the marine volumes. The books have been compiled and edited over the past year with additional assistance from a number of CREST researchers, overseen by CREST managing director, Samantha Hogenson.

Business Expert Press markets its books globally, targeted to business and academic audiences. It has recently launched a sustainable tourism series which fits well with CREST's mission and key constituencies.Keep a lookout for purchasing information early in the new year!

July 2017 Charter Club Trip Announced: Crete

Registration is open! Join CREST in an extraordinary six-day journey of discovery to this "Garden of Greece" where, together with resident specialists, we’ll explore archaeological sites, organic farms and vineyards, nature reserves, fishing ports, artisan food shops, and traditional tavernas. Crete is the birthplace of the first civilization in Europe - The Minoans -- as well as home of the world’s healthiest cuisine – the Mediterranean Diet. Accommodation will be in beautifully restored lodging in historic villages. This trip has been organized with Nikki Rose, Founder and Director of Crete's Culinary Sanctuaries, an award-winning program for best practices in responsible travel. View the itinerary and learn more here.

CREST Charter Club Trips are different than your typical tour. With an exclusive focus on small-scale responsible travel, CREST hopes to share a vacation experience that is significantly superior to conventional and mass tourism. Charter Club trips are designed for a small group of individuals who have a passion for travel and are concerned with tourism’s effects on the environment and local communities.

Caribbean 'Green' Travel Teacher's Guide

Are you a professor of sustainable tourism or a travel industry member who hosts educational events? CREST's 2016 film Caribbean 'Green' Travel: Your Choices Make a Difference and accompanying teacher's guide are great resources, already proving a valuable tool in a number of classrooms!

This 45-minute film includes portraits of tourism businesses in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Grenada that are practicing environmental stewardship and generating social and economic benefits for the destinations, showing that tourism can offer much more than sun, sea, and sand.

The free Teacher's Guide, which can be downloaded from the CREST website, is designed for teachers at any level who wish to use the film in their classes. It is intended to help teachers and students explore and think critically about key concepts introduced by the film, including sustainable management and development, community integration, ecotourism, voluntourism, certification, among other topics.

The Teacher's Guide was prepared by University of Maine professor Dr. Kreg Ettenger and CREST Managing Director Samantha Hogenson, with assistance from CREST research assistant Ashley Newson. Caribbean 'Green' Travel can be downloaded from the CREST website in English or Spanish for $8.98, or a DVD can be ordered from for $15 + shipping and handling.

End of Year Travel Auctions and Upcoming Valentine's Day Auction

Did you know you can simply take a trip and support CREST? This is possible through our annual series of eco-travel auctions, thanks to wonderful hotels and tour operators who graciously donate packages from which the proceeds support CREST's work. We are grateful to all our donors, and would like to highlight the inspiring companies that have supported us with donated packages for our late fall and holiday auctions:

Ashburnham Estate, Asilia Africa, Barefoot Cay, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort (Platinum Sponsor!) Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, Cottar's 1920s Camp, Cotton Tree Lodge, Coyaba Beach Resort, Gal Oya Lodge, Haugan Cruises, Hotel El Ganzo (Platinum Sponsor!), JW Marriott Guanacaste, Ka'ana Resort, Lindblad Expeditions, the Lodge & Spa at Pico Bonito, Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge, Mahogany Springs, and Pole Pole Bungalows.

CREST's first auction in 2017 will be our Valentine's Day auction, in February. If you are a sustainably-minded travel company that gives back to your community, we'd love to talk with you about participating! Please contact CREST managing director Samantha Hogenson.

Introduction of Two New Platinum Sponsors

CREST is thrilled to announce two exemplary companies have come on board as CREST Platinum Sponsors: Basecamp Explorer Kenya and Hotel El Ganzo.

Basecamp Explorer Kenya is part of the Basecamp Group – a tourism company that operates a collection of destinations across the globe in a responsible, enlightened way. Basecamp was formed in 1998 by Svein Wilhelmsen after a life-changing meeting with an old Maasai Chief, Ole Taek. The Basecamp journey started with Basecamp Masai Mara, a Gold Rated Eco Camp bordering the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. Recognizing the vital importance of the land, Basecamp co-operated with the Maasai community in establishing Naboisho Conservancy, a community-owned nature conservancy within which Basecamp's other two camps are located. Naboisho provides more than 500 Maasai families with monthly income and protects 50,000 acres of pristine wildlife area. The Basecamp Foundation facilitates and administrates numerous community projects in the Maasai Mara region and brings guests to see the projects, believing every traveler is a potential philanthropist.

Hotel El Ganzo is located in Los Cabos, Mexico, and is a hotel that celebrates diversity, creativity, artistry, and sustainability. Visiting national and international artists create their own original sounds in the hotel's Underground Studio, while live musical performances and curated visual art exhibits treat guests to an insider's view of the creative mind. In cooperation with an art gallery and the president of the San Jose Organic Market, the hotel is building a learning garden and art school, where they will teach children of the community to be creative and make art. The learning garden will provide the opportunity for children to learn how to plant, cultivate and harvest vegetables and herbs, and the final step of how to include the vegetables in their meals. Another interesting fact is that El Ganzo uses laundry detergent that is made from cactus – totally sustainable and biodegradable!

CREST Platinum Sponsors agree to support CREST through auction donations for a period of five years. Participants must be recognized leaders in sustainability and community involvement in the travel industry. Basecamp Explorer Kenya and Hotel El Ganzo join Soneva Resorts, Residences & Spas, Micato Safaris, Island Outpost, and Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in this elite category. We are honored to include Basecamp & El Ganzo in this inspiring group!

Spring Internships Available

Are you a student of sustainable tourism or a related field? We're taking applications for two Program & Research interns to join the CREST team for the Spring semester! View the description here. Graduate students are preferred, though exemplary undergraduates will also be considered. The deadline for applications is January 4, 2017. Please direct any questions to Samantha Hogenson.

CREST in the News

  • November 3, 2016: “The Changing Colour of Travel from Grey to Green”: This article discusses the greening of the tourism industry and how to be a more mindful traveler. CREST’s “Trends & Statistics” study is referenced twice, noting that the “social and environmental imperative for responsible travel is being spurred, in part, by the twin crises of wealth inequality and climate change” and that large hotel and tour operators around the world are responding to ecotourism interest by appointments of senior management positions for sustainability practices.
  • November 10, 2016: “8 Ethical Travel Destinations to Visit in 2017”: Alongside other sustainable tourism experts, CREST’s Martha Honey adds her voice to highlight Canada, Aruba, Grenada, and Costa Rica.
  • November 23, 2016: “Why Does B.C. Still Kill Grizzlies for Sport?”: The debate over bear viewing vs. bear hunting the Great Bear Rainforest rages on. An October provincial government news release claims B.C. has “a high level of rigour and adequate safeguards in place to ensure the long-term stability of grizzly populations.” This is disputed by biologists, and those against the hunting argue that it’s not even all about science – it’s about values and ethics. CREST’s economic impact report is cited.
  • November 24, 2016: “B.C. NDP Announces Policy to Ban Trophy Hunting of Grizzlies”: As part of its 2017 election platform, the New Democratic Party of British Columbia has pledged to ban all trophy hunting of grizzly bears in the province. CREST’s economic impact report is cited once again.
  • December 4, 2016: "The Greenpreneur" Podcast: Martha Honey was a guest on "The Greenpreneur Show" with Michael Thomas, which is a one-hour consumer based program every Sunday at 3pm CST. The audience ranges from young entrepreneurs to eco-conscious guru's that are eager to change the world and their lifestyle by their actions. She spoke about sustainable tourism and CREST's work.
  • December 5, 2016: "Marketplace Challenges Proved Too Much for Fathom to Overcome": Carnival's "social impact" cruise line , Fathom, will shut down next June. Fathom offered voluntourism and people-to-people experiences. Fathom's Adonia created buzz for being the first ship to take regularly scheduled cruises to Cuba in more than 50 years. Social impact cruises were also offered to the Dominican Republic. It turns out the audience just wasn't there. Martha Honey comments in the article as to why she thinks this is.

End of Year Giving & AmazonSmile

CREST’s work is entirely funded by public and private grants and donations. As another productive year comes to a close, we at the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) reflect on how our work to promote responsible travel that offers enriching experiences, while benefiting host communities and the environment is made possible by supporters like you. As part of your holiday giving, we hope that you will consider supporting CREST’s responsible travel mission and initiatives. CREST is a registered 501(c)3, so donating is easy, secure, and tax deductible!

Are you a late holiday shopper? There is a very easy way you can support CREST at no added cost to you! You shop. Amazon gives. It's as simple as that! Just visit AmazonSmile, and when prompted, type "Center for Responsible Travel" as your charity of choice. It's the same Amazon you know, but when going through Smile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.

We thank you for your continuing support and collaboration, and wish you a joyous and peaceful holiday season!