CREST Newsletter: Issue 6, January - March 2015
After nearly a decade helping to build CREST from ground zero, Program Director David Krantz has left for a new position, acting as Vice President of Research and Knowledge Management at the American Society of Interior Designers in Washington, DC. Over the years, David was part of every decision at CREST and ran many of its most exciting and impactful projects, from the work in Mexico to the studies on global trends in coastal tourism, market demand publications, and several of the Innovators Symposiums. His cheerful and kind spirit and polite demeanor has endeared David to us all. And his total fluency in Spanish and personal knowledge of Latin America – along with much of the rest of the world – has benefited CREST enormously. His shoes are hard to fill, but we have found a high quality replacement.
Juan Luna-Kelser (pictured right), one of CREST’s long time consultants, has stepped in to take over, most importantly, CREST’s three current projects in Mexico (see separate story). Juan, who is Mexican, worked at the Inter-American Development Bank for 30 years, and is now both a consultant and an Adjunct Tourism Professor at George Washington University. He has already been involved in several of CREST’s Mexico projects and we are pleased to see that this important work is continuing smoothly under Juan’s leadership.
On another front, CREST is the process of creating a new division, its Academic Affiliates. This includes a roster of some dozen leading academics in tourism and related fields who will be collaborating with CREST to undertake a range of educational projects. These include peer reviewed research and publications, conferences and workshops, courses and seminars, fieldwork and study tours, and student internships. CREST believes that this model will permit us flexibility to engage with institutions and faculty across a range of disciplines and geographical regions.
The decision to organize the Academic Affiliates follows the retirement from CREST of its co-founder and Co-Director, Bill Durham, and the closure of our office at Stanford University in late 2014. Bill had been vital in building CREST into a well-respected institute recognized for its cutting edge, academically rigorous research and field studies. In late 2014, when Bill retired from CREST, the Board and staff decided it could be advantageous to expand its academic partnerships beyond Stanford University. During April, we will officially launch our Academics Affiliates with a special portal on our website that lists the professors and their institutions.
CREST and its partner Puntacana Ecological Foundation have decided to reorganize this year’s Innovators Symposium around a single theme: how coastal and marine tourism must be planned, built and operated in an era of climate change. The purpose is to hold a practically-oriented, ‘how to’ working meeting that brings together the most forward planning among tourism practitioners with the best projections by climate change experts for minimizing damage to tourism infrastructure and activities in the wake of increasingly severe storms and rising sea levels and water temperatures. The Think Tank papers and discussions will be compiled into a publication.
As originally planned, this Think Tank will be held at Puntacana, Dominican Republic, July 22-24, 2015. Its geographic focus will continue to be on North and Central America and the Caribbean.
”We decided to change the format because we noticed a growing consensus that there is a need for specific focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions for the tourism industry,” explained Samantha Hogenson, CREST’s lead organizer. “We have decided to shift from organizing the 4th Symposium focused broadly on innovators in coastal tourism to that of a smaller, more targeted invitation only Think Tank that will bring together the top experts and practitioners who are working towards tangible, hands-on climate change solutions for coastal and marine tourism,” she added. Topics to be covered at the Think Tank include coastal resorts, marinas, golf courses, beaches, airlines, marine protected areas, cruise ships and yachts, recreation, and wellness, among others.
This Think Tank will bring together two to three dozen carefully selected experts who will be asked to make a presentation, as well as prepare a paper for the forthcoming publication. This publication will include the most current strategies for how various sectors of the tourism industry should be addressing the realities of climate change.
To be considered as an expert presenter, please review the list of topics, and apply here by April 30, 2015. Please consult the website for Think Tank updates.
The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is partnering with the award-winning Jamaican filmmaker Esther Figueroa, Ph.D., to make a new, 40 minute documentary showcasing socially and environmentally responsible coastal tourism. "Innovating the Caribbean" features sustainable models of tourism in four Caribbean islands: Jamaica, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, and Aruba.
“There are now a number of excellent films about the problems caused by big box, industrial scale coastal tourism,” explains CREST Executive Director Martha Honey. “We believe there is a need for an educational film demonstrating that even in the Caribbean – the most tourism intense region in the world – there are high quality resorts, attractions, and tour operators who are generating tangible benefits for the islands while offering superior vacation experiences.”
In March, Esther began filming in Jamaica and then, together with CREST’s Samantha Hogenson, she spent a week shooting at a range of locations in Grenada. In April, filming is scheduled for Aruba and the Dominican Republic, and in early May, Esther will complete shooting in Jamaica. In all, the film will feature some dozen resorts and other tourism businesses in these four islands.
Simultaneously, CREST conducted a vigorous fundraising effort, including an Indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign led by Allison Christensen, a talented electronic publishing student from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, who is interning at CREST. Allison also designed the film’s attractive logo and poster and has handled the lively social media outreach to promote the film. In addition, in March CREST ran a special CharityBuzz auction of coastal Caribbean vacation packages to support the film. A number of tourism businesses and several foundations have also contributed financially and in-kind to the film. Additional funds are still being sought.
CREST plans to complete the film by July, and host premier showings at the Puntacana Think Tank (see separate article) and in Washington, DC. Learn more about the film and make a tax-deductible donation!
CREST is currently involved in tourism projects in three different states in Mexico: Guerrero, Sinaloa, and Chihuahua.
- Guerrero: Creating a Strategic Plan for Ecotourism
In Guerrero, CREST is partnered with Sustenta, a Mexican company specializing in ‘green’ products and field projects, to produce a 10 year strategic plan for ecotourism in the state. Guerrero, Mexico’s poorest state, has been wracked with drug-related violence, including the mass murder of 43 students in late 2014. The federal and state governments have targeted ecotourism as one of the key drivers for growing the economy. The study has been commissioned by the state’s environmental ministry, SEMAREN, and the federal government’s national parks administration, CONANP.
Since January, a team of CREST researchers, led by Juan Luna and including Rodrigo Gallegos, Director of Climate Change and Technology at IMCO, Mexico’s leading competitiveness council, and Thomas Meller, an expert in tourism certification and Director of Sustainable Solutions, have been working with Sustenta staff led by its Director General Manolo Ruiz. The CREST and Sustenta researchers spent three weeks in January and February visiting key ecotourism attractions, protected areas, and other existing and potential tourism sites in the state. Because of security concerns, they were not able to visit two of the state’s seven regions.
Although violence, poverty, and lack of infrastructure have greatly limited tourism in Guerrero, the CREST-Sustenta analysts have found considerable potential, including around several of the state’s parks and along its Pacific Ocean coastline. The new strategic plan is designed to build on already existing domestic and more limited international tourism to hubs around Taxco, Acapulco, and Ixtapa- Zihuatanejo. The plan will propose administrative reforms, work force development, key infrastructure projects, public and private investment, and marketing strategies to grow both domestic and the more limited international tourism. Rather than simply aiming to increase the number of visitors, CREST is recommending the emphasis be on attracting higher value vacationers who stay longer, visit several locations, and patronize locally owned businesses.
The CREST-Sustenta field team has been supported with desk-based research by CREST staff and interns in Washington, DC and Sustenta staff in Mexico City. The final report will be completed in May.
- Chihuahua: Promoting Indigenous Tourism
In Chihuahua, CREST is embarking upon a two-year project funded by the Christensen Foundation, which is designed to protect bio-cultural diversity in the Sierra Tarahumara around Creel and the Copper Canyon (Divisadero). CREST is partnered with two local NGOs, CONTEC and Tierra Nativa, and a local tour operator, Umarike Expeditions, in order to improve the quality, accessibility and marketing of culturally respectful, nature-based tourism. Thriving authentic indigenous tourism will increase revenue and jobs and offer an incentive to the Rarámuri people to preserve their lands, wildlife, and customs.
At present the indigenous people of the Sierra Tarahumara are dominated by a handful of non-indigenous private entrepreneurs who, with backing of key government officials, use Rarámuri images, traditions, and culture to sell tours and lodging on indigenous lands. Over the past five years, the government and private investors have spent an estimated USD$200 million to develop large scale tourism -- including a cable car into the Canyon, resorts, and a theme park -- while leaving the Rarámuri politically and economically marginalized.
A CREST site visit to Chihuahua and workshop in Creel in August 2014 brought together several indigenous-owned and operated tourism enterprises in the Creel-Copper Canyon area. However, their quality standards are not up to par, they aren’t widely and effectively marketed, and they are generating only modest returns. While tourism by Mexicans has been increasing despite the security concerns, most visitors to Copper Canyon do not know how to book tours to visit Rarámuri communities in order to experience authentic indigenous-run attractions and activities. Over the next two years, CREST proposes to develop an umbrella tour brand to market authentic cultural and nature-based tourism in the three communities of Bacajiparé, Mogotavo, and Huitosachi. The project is scheduled to begin within a month with workshops for these communities and our local partners.
- Sinaloa: Sustainable Destination Certification
In Sinaloa, CREST is beginning Phase 3 of a project to promote competitiveness and sustainable tourism in the southern half of the state. This project, first begun in 2013, is being carried out in collaboration with the state business council CODESIN and the local environmental NGO CONSELVA. It seeks to ensure that good practices in sustainable hotel management are applied to existing properties, and that future tourism related development in Southern Sinaloa conforms to international sustainability standards for environmental, social, and economic benefits. CREST’s role in this project is to provide technical expertise on applied sustainability in the tourism sector.
In the latest phase, which will run from May – December 2015, CREST experts will coordinate an assessment of southern Sinaloa using Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) criteria and indicators. The objective is to prepare the conditions to have southern Sinaloa recognized as a GSTC Sustainable Destination and to eventually obtain certification under one of several international certification programs. CREST’s work in Sinaloa is being financed by CODESIN, Overbrook Foundation, and the International Community Foundation. Additional funding is currently being sought.
The latest edition of CREST’s popular publication, “The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics 2015” is scheduled for release in early April. The annual publication, which is endorsed and distributed by some dozen other tourism organizations and institutes, includes a meta-analysis of consumer and industry demand for responsible tourism, drawn from surveys, polls, and market studies over the last five years.
The 2015 edition finds continuing interest in responsible tourism among travelers, tourism companies, and destinations. For instance, nearly 60% of travelers say they plan to make eco-friendly choices when booking hotels, and 91% of businesses agree that operating in an eco-friendly manner is important, according to surveys by TripAdvisor.
While these trends are promising, the study also highlights two worrisome milestones in 2014: it was the hottest year on record, and the amount of wealth (US$1.7 trillion) held by the top 85 richest people now equals that held by the 3.5 billion people who comprise the lower half of the world’s population. The CREST study states, “The social and environmental imperative for responsible tourism is mounting as inequality between the world’s richest and poorest continue to widen and the realities of climate change become ever more apparent.” As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has noted, “One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy.”
Trends and Statistics 2015 will be released the week of April 6 and can be downloaded for free from the CREST website.
CREST is conducting a study commissioned by the National Audubon Society to assess the market for bird-based tourism in four countries: Belize, Guatemala, Bahamas, and Paraguay.
CREST has been hired to “compile and analyze bird-based tourism market statistics to assess and showcase the economic value of this market segment, including cross-border trips.” The study, which is part of a large, longer term regional ecotourism project financed by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is designed to strengthen bird-based tourism “as a conservation and sustainable development tool.” At present there are an estimated 48 million bird watchers in the United States, of which more than 17 million are willing to travel for birding activities. Since 1983 the number of bird watchers in the US has increased by 332%.
The CREST study is to examine the effectiveness of this growing bird-based tourism niche market as a tool for promoting ecosystem conservation through local socioeconomic development. Its aim is to measure effectiveness by quantifying arrivals and actual or potential expenditures, with a focus on the U.S. as the supply market. CREST’s products include a short market analysis based on a literature review and interviews; a set of four fact sheets, one per country; a set of recommendations for each country on how to better collect market information for this segment; and a WebEx presentation to disseminate results to all project partners in the four countries. The project concludes the end of April.
Since late 2014, CREST has been working with Grenada’s Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) to develop and launch a destination-wide Travelers’ Philanthropy program, the first in the Caribbean. From January 6 – 18, 2015, Martha Honey, Director, and Jannelle Wilkins, founder and former Board Chair of the Monteverde Community Fund in Costa Rica, were in Grenada to hold 12 workshops and a range of meetings with key tourism industry and community leaders, as well as government officials. The discussions centered around how to create and organize a destination wide Travelers’ Philanthropy Fund in Grenada, modeled after Monteverde’s Community Fund (which was originally called the Monteverde Travelers’ Philanthropy Fund). During this 12 day visit, Martha and Jannelle met with 52 persons at various locations around Grenada, as well as on the sister island of Carriacou.
Based on the ideas and suggestions from these consultations, Martha and Jannelle drafted a Manual for a one year pilot phase (March 2015 – March 2016) for the travelers’ philanthropy program, which is known as the “Go Pure Grenada Community Fund.” Pure Grenada, the island’s new tourism brand, has been adopted by both the government and private sector. The Manual is now being reviewed by the GHTA.
In the coming months, CREST will work with GHTA to organize for a small team of Grenadians involved in the Community Fund to visit Monteverde to learn firsthand how they have organized their fund, which was first launched in 2011, with technical support from CREST. In addition, CREST will be assisting GHTA with developing marketing materials for the pilot phase and may assist as well with training of hotel staff, tour operators, and others who will promote the Community Fund to travelers.
CREST’s consultancy is financed by Compete Caribbean, a multi-year project of the Inter-American Development Bank and other donor agencies which is designed to strengthen and diversify the GHTA’s tourism marketing tools and strategies. The Inter-American Foundation has provided travel funds for Jannelle Wilkins’ participation and for bringing a group from Grenada to Costa Rica to learn about the Monteverde Community Fund.
CREST is pleased to have worked with the “Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Strategies” (ICCAS)/Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Quinn Company Limited, the Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association, and the Grenada Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries & Environment to develop a presentation on linkages between climate change and tourism in Grenada.
The presentation was created from various components discussed at the 3rd Symposium for Innovators in Coastal Tourism, held in Grenada in July 2014, in relation to climate change mitigation and adaptation, including: energy efficiency, water usage, best practices for designing and constructing coastal resorts and hotels, linking sustainable tourism to industries, and building symbiotic relationships between coastal tourism, MPAs, & commercial fishing. The presentation is supported with various case studies and fact sheets.
The one and a half hour presentation was presented by CREST program associate Samantha Hogenson to nearly 30 members of the Grenadian community at a training in March, representing the public, private, and civil sectors. After a follow-up training in the coming months, the participants will give the presentations themselves to distribute climate change information widely throughout the islands.
At CREST, we believe education is the key to a sustainable future. We’re proud to have welcomed the following students to work and learn with CREST this spring:
- Stephania “Fanny” Macias is from Nayarit, Mexico, and is in her final year at the Universidad Tecnologica de Nayarit. In May, she will obtain a degree in Tourism Management and Development, with an emphasis in hospitality (photo-left).
- Allison Christensen grew up in Lester Prairie, Minnesota. She is currently a junior at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota studying for her bachelor’s degree in Electronic Publishing and a minor in Business (photo-left center).
- Eunmi “Umi” Kim is from Jinwee, Pyeongtaek City, South Korea. She is currently a senior at Ewha Womans University, majoring in Geography Education (photo-center).
- Zhengzheng “Zoe” Zhou from from Ningbo,China. With an undergraduate degree in Communications and Journalism, she is currently pursuing a Master of Tourism Administration in from George Washington University, with concentration of Event and Management (photo-right center).
- Yuebo “Robert” Li was born in Nanchang, China and grew up in Macau. He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Finance from Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics and recently graduated with a Master of Tourism Administration from the George Washington University, with an emphasis in Sustainable Destination Development (photo-right).
On February 26, Samantha Hogenson presented to The Ocean Foundation staff about worldwide climate change impacts and solutions. Samantha became a Climate Reality Leader through a training by the Climate Reality Project, held in Brazil, in November 2014. Her attendance at the training was financed by CREST and The Ocean Foundation, in order to help spread the word about climate change and incorporate knowledge into existing and upcoming projects. If you are interested in becoming a Climate Reality Leader, three trainings are available in North American in 2015. Apply today!
On March 17, the Washington Spa Alliance (WSPA) inaugurated the first ever “Spa Hall of Fame” at its 5th annual Symposium held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The nine luminaries of the modern spa industry from North America were all present for the official induction ceremony in their honor.
“This induction ceremony represents the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together centered around spa – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson took the waters alone in Warm Springs, Virginia in 1818,” said Vice Chair, Mary Elizabeth Gifford.
The inaugural ‘Class of 2015’ includes the following founders and distinguished contributors who have been recognized for lifetime achievement:
• Deborah Szekely, Rancho La Puerta, (co-founder, 1940); The Golden Door (founder, 1958)
• Sheila Cluff, The Oaks at Ojai (owner and founder, 1977)
• Jerrold Cohen, Canyon Ranch (co-founder, 1979)
• Pat and Juanita Corbett, The Hills Health Ranch (co-founders, 1982)
• Professor Mary Huddleston Tabacchi, First University Course on Spa, Cornell University (1984)
• Clodagh, Clodagh Design (founder, 1984)
• Ruth Stricker, The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness (founder, 1985)
• Bernard Burt, historian & author, Fodor’s Health & Fitness Vacations (1989); ISPA (co-
The Spa Hall of Fame, which will live as a virtual museum on the WSPA website will feature photos and bios of inductees, as well as an archive of timelines and history of the modern spa movement in North America.
CREST has been closely involved in WSPA since its creation five years ago. Mary-Elizabeth Gifford also serves on CREST’s Board of Directors. In addition, Martha Honey, who is a member of WSPA’s Advisory Board, interviewed two of the inductees at the inauguration ceremony.
Our interns have joined us in “sharing expertise & providing leadership”. Learn about these areas where tourism sustainability is making a difference from their perspectives:
- Sustainability Innovation in the Meetings Industry: 10 Tips to Go Green, by Zhengzheng Zhou
- 5 Tourism Projects that Contribute to Conservation & Climate Change Adaptation, by Umi Kim
- Celebrating Women in Tourism, by Umi Kim and Samantha Hogenson, in collaboration with Gender Responsible Tourism
CREST Spring Eco-Auction & Upcoming Auction
Nemasu Eco-Lodge, Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Xanadu Island Resort, Island Outpost’s GoldenEye, Rios Tropicales, Bodhi Surf School, Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, The Westin Georgetown, The Red Lion Inn & The Porches Inn, Greentique Hotels, The Crossing Resort, and Taste of Place.
If your business is interested in being a part of our summer auction (June 2 – 16, 2015), please contact CREST program associate, Samantha Hogenson. This is a great opportunity for travel businesses to get the word out about what your company has to offer and create or maintain a connection with CREST.
January 30, 2015: Martha Honey discusses the local food movement in Caribbean tourism, in Elaine Glusac’s article “Farm-to-Table Comes to the Caribbean”, printed in the Wall Street Journal.
March 18, 2015: CREST intern Allison Christensen shares insight as to what it’s like to intern with CREST through the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota news blog.
Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee (MPA FAC) meetings, April 6: As a newly named member of MPA FAC, a citizen’s advisory committee to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the U.S. Department of the Interior, Martha Honey will be attending two meetings in the coming months. The first, a Webinar on April 6, will create a number of subcommittees and working groups to oversee a range of issues related to marine protected areas. The meeting will also discuss the newly updated Framework for the National System of MPAs and a “Call to Action” for “Sustaining America’s Most Treasured Ocean Places for Recreation and Stewardship.” Martha was invited to join MPA FAC because of a recognized need to include an expert in sustainable tourism.
Earth Day, April 22: Martha Honey will take part in a panel discussion to commemorate Earth Day at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The three person panel, which also includes Helen Crowley who is Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation at the Luxury, Sport & Lifestyle Group of Kering and Matt Stinchcomb who is Vice President of Values and Impact at Etsy.com, will focus on “The Cutting Edge of Green Design.” This year’s event marks the famed Museum’s 25th annual Spring Environmental Lecture and Luncheon.
TIES Ecotourism Conference, April 27-30: Martha Honey has been invited to be a speaker at the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC15), hosted by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), in Quito, Ecuador. Martha will serve on a panel to discuss tourism development issues.
The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference, now in its tenth year, is a unique annual conference providing practical solutions to advance sustainability goals for the tourism industry.
A leading international meeting place for tourism businesses and destinations, the ESTC will bring together 600 professionals from across the industry and over 50 countries.
CARE for the Cape Day, May 8: We’re joining CARE for the Cape & Islands for the 2nd Annual CARE for the Cape Day! In the area and want to join us? This year we will spend the morning at Waquoit Bay Reserve, helping them clean up from a tough winter and preparing for the many students and adults who visit each year. Come lend a hand while learning about this special place. You’ll also have a chance to learn about some of the Wampanoag Tribe’s customs such the building of a “wetu” structure, one of CARE’s 2015 Projects, and witness some native Wampanoag cooking in action. Sponsors of the event include Turtleback Ltd and Whole Foods Hyannis. Registration is required. Register today.
Samantha Hogenson will also join CARE earlier in the week to speak on heritage tourism and climate change.
Tourism Cares for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, May 7 & 8: From our friends at Tourism Cares: Tourism Cares invites volunteers to make an impact along the historic corridor where the foundation of America was built. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Tourism Cares, in partnership with The Journey Through Hallowed Ground and their Living Legacy Project, will help in a campaign to plant a tree to honor and pay tribute to every fallen Civil War Soldier.
The Living Legacy Project will create a unified color palette that reminds visitors that they are, indeed, on hallowed ground. Upon completion, this initiative will create the first 180 mile landscaped allee in the world and the only one dedicated to honoring the most defining moment in American history.
In addition to participating in this important and historic project, volunteers will also benefit from organized learning sessions and networking opportunities during receptions and other informal gatherings throughout the 2-day program.
Myanmar Ecotourism Conference, May 19-21: Martha Honey has been invited to speak on the topic “Engaging host communities, ensuring benefits” at a 3-day international ecotourism conference in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. The key focus of the conference is on successful planning and management approaches for ecotourism in and around protected areas to strengthen livelihoods, strengthen conservation, and contribute to adaptation.
The conference is hosted by Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism (MOHT) and Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry and is organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). The Ministries are currently developing an Ecotourism Policy and Management Strategy for their protected areas with technical support from ICIMOD, which will be launched at the conference.
The conference deliberations will be on the following themes:
• Leveraging ecotourism to enhance local livelihoods and adaptation
• Supporting ecotourism policy formulation and bringing ecotourism policy into practice
• Transforming ecotourism in an opportunity for protected areas
• Sharing successful ecotourism planning and management approaches
• Promoting community involvement approaches in ecotourism
• Bringing benefits of ecotourism beyond the boundaries of protected areas
• Maintaining the ethics of ecotourism in business
• Highlighting the importance of climate change awareness through ecotourism interpretation
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