CREST Honorary Advisory Board
The CREST Honorary Advisory Board is comprised of distinguished leaders and influencers in the field of responsible tourism. The knowledge, insights, and opinions of these individuals provide valuable aid in advancing CREST's mission and activities. The Honorary Advisory Board complements CREST’s Board of Directors.
Elizabeth Becker, author, Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism and former New York Times reporter
Elizabeth Becker is the author of OVERBOOKED: the Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism which Arthur Frommer called "required reading for anyone interested in the future of travel." She reported on international and national affairs as a correspondent at the New York Times, winning multiple awards, was the senior foreign editor of National Public Radio, and began her career as a war correspondent in Cambodia for the Washington Post. She is the author of the classic WHEN THE WAR WAS OVER, Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge.
Ewald Biemans opened Bucuti Beach Resort in 1987; since then, the resort has enjoyed average yearly occupancies of +90%. The environmental honors Ewald has received include CHA’s award for Environmental Stewardship (1997) and the International Hotel & Restaurant Association Award for Innovation in Environmental Best Practice (2004). As a pioneer in eco-friendly practices, he has led Bucuti to achieve the ISO 14001 environmental certification every year since 2003.
Chris Blackwell, the acclaimed hotelier and media entrepreneur who founded Island Records and introduced the world to Bob Marley and U2, recently re-opened GoldenEye; built as the novelist Ian Fleming’s Jamaican retreat, it is now an award-winning destination.
Long before sustainability and stewardship became the bywords for responsible tourism, Blackwell’s Jamaica-based hotel portfolio, Island Outpost resorts, began setting the standard for socially and environmentally conscious travel. Composed of a portfolio of three award-winning boutique hotels and a 2,500 acre working organic farm, the Island Outpost collection has been described by Condé Nast Traveler as “Like a close-knit family of wildly attractive, intelligent and anarchic kids, they are utterly independent and quite impossible to separate from one another. But something they have all inherited is Blackwell’s easy charm, his amused and iconoclastic view of the world, his sense of fun and style, his instinct for beauty.”
Although Island Outpost resorts have hosted Heads of State and Grammy winners alike, Blackwell himself often shuns the limelight, preferring to work behind the scene to create lasting cultural change. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and lives with his family on a 2,500 acre organic farm, Pantrepant.
Dinda Elliott is a freelance journalist and the former-Global Affairs Editor ofCondé Nast Traveler. While at Traveler, she led coverage of global issues and corporate social responsibility in the travel industry. Dinda covered a diverse array of issues regarding social responsibility in tourism, all culminating in the annual Condé Nast World Savers Awards.
Prior to joining Traveler, Dinda covered the beginnings of China’s economic reforms in 1984 for BusinessWeek, and served as Beijing bureau chief for Newsweek from 1987 to 1990. Dinda also covered Boris Yeltsin’s presidency for three years as Moscow bureau chief before returning to Hong Kong for a decade, traveling and reporting across China. During this time, her team at Newsweek won an Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Dinda graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies, and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She was also a Gannett Fellow at the Gannet Center of Journalism at Columbia University. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband Adi Ignatius.
Jake Kheel is the Environmental Director for Puntacana Resort & Club, one of the most successful companies in the Dominican Republic, with a distinguished history in sustainable coastal tourism development. For the past eight years, Kheel has overseen the Corporate Environmental Affairs for the resort, including solid waste management, environmental quality control, environmental permitting, and energy and water conservation.
Kheel is also Executive Director of the not-for-profit Puntacana Ecological Foundation. For the past 15 years, the foundation has successfully implemented innovative solutions to numerous social and environmental issues, ranging from implementation of the largest recycling operation in the country, conservation of endangered species, and coral reef restoration and marine management. Kheel has a master’s degree in Environmental Management from Cornell University and bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature from Wesleyan University.
Dennis Pinto graduated from Stanford University and travelled the world as a vice president for American Express International Banking. He took a six-month sabbatical to set up a Micato New York office for the family, and some twenty-five years later, he’s never looked back. Skillfully honing the Micato safari philosophy of luxury, exploration, culture and responsibility, he also co-founded the company nonprofit arm, AmericaShare. Dennis resides in New York City with his wife Joy and two children.
Sonu Shivdasani and his wife Eva have created a pioneering vision for sustainable tourism, coining a concept of barefoot luxury that effortlessly pairs luxury holidays with care for the environment. Captivated by the beauty of the Maldives two decades ago, Sonu and Eva purchased an island and, at the behest of the Maldivian government, started a management company to run a resort on the island.
Six Senses Resorts & Spas, founded in 1995, quickly became an icon among the discerning travel community, winning several awards including the 2000 and 2008 Best of the Best by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler and the 2008 World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Award. Currently, however, Sonu and Eva focus their attention on Soneva.
Each Soneva resort combines 5 star luxury accommodations with a commitment to respecting the local culture and the fragile host eco-system. Further, each resort uses only natural and sustainable building materials, plastic is banned, and food is locally sourced in an effort to realize Sonu’s vision for a completely “decarbonized” group by 2015.
A descendent of Indian parents, Sonu was born and educated in England, with some periods of his studies spent in Nigeria and Switzerland. He is an alumnus of Eton College and Oxford University, where he received an MA in English Literature.
Consultant, journalist, and editor, Jonathan Tourtellot specializes in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship. He originated the concept of geotourism, defined by National Geographic as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.” He founded and ran National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations for nine years. There he instituted the Geotourism MapGuide program and the landmark Destination Stewardship surveys published in National Geographic Traveler, 2004-2010. He continues to serve as Geotourism Editor for Traveler and Portal Editor for www.DestinationCenter.org. His consulting firm is Focus on Places LLC.