Ecotourism Handbooks on Certification

CREST (then CESD), in collaboration with Rainforest Alliance and The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), has produced several handbooks on the topic of ecotourism and certification. These handbooks were produced from the results of a 4-year research project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank's Multilateral Investment Fund. The focus of the handbooks is to show readers how tourism certification can be made into a reliable and useful tool for the tourism industry and its consumers. Although the handbooks are focused on the Americas, many relevant examples are incorporated from sites and certification programs worldwide.

For your convenience, each handbook is available for download in both Spanish and English. To download the handbooks, please click the links below:

Ecotourism Handbook I (User's Guide) - Practical advice on how tourism certification works.

A Simple User's Guide to Certification for Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism (PDF)
Manual No. 1 - Una Guía Simple Para La Certificación Del Turismo Sostenible Y El Ecotourismo (PDF)

Ecotourism Handbook II (Funding) - Funding mechanisms and resources that can assist businesses seeking certification.

Practical Steps for Funding Certification of Tourism Businesses (PDF)
>Pasos Prácticos Para Financiar la Certificación de Empresas Turísticas (PDF)

Ecotourism Handbook III (Marketing) - Advice on how to effectively market certification.

Practical steps for Marketing Tourism Certification (PDF)
Pasos Prácticos Para Mercadear la Certificación Turística (PDF)

Ecotourism Handbook IV (Financing) - Steps certification programs can take for financial stability.

Practical Steps for Financing Tourism Certification Programs (PDF)
Financiamento De Programas de Certificación (PDF)


"Rights and Responsibilities: A Compilation of Codes of Conduct for Tourism and Indigenous and Local Communities"

Abstract: Today a number of organizations around the globe are addressing, either wholly or as part of their mission, the relationship between visitors and hosts. Evolving ground rules for this relationship are the subject of a wide range of codes of conduct written by the UN, national governments, international financial and development agencies, non-governmental organizations, tour operators, indigenous rights groups and porters associations. This publication is an effort to collate and synthesize many of these codes of conduct. While selective and far from complete, it is representative of the range of rules and rights that have been laid out by international agencies, indigenous peoples, and responsible sectors of the tourism and ecotourism industry.

Available for free in .pdf (260 pgs), by CD-ROM ($12) or in hard copy ($20).

To request a copy, contact CREST at staff@responsibletravel.org

"Protecting Eden: Setting Green Standards for the Tourism Industry" (Martha Honey)

During the last 30 years, the global environmental movement and mounting concerns over the negative effects of conventional tourism-such as the loss of habitats and endangered wildlife -have given rise to the concept of ecotourism. In this time, more than 70 "green" certification programs have been developed, setting ecofriendly standards and, in some cases, measuring ecotourism's benefits to local communities and the environment. To date, however, these programs are voluntary and costly, and their standards are often subjective and imprecise. There is a growing consensus over the need for an accreditation body to help assess and standardize these certification programs.

Available from: Environment Magazine, Volume 45, Number 6, July/August 2003.

"Giving a Grade to Costa Rica's Green Tourism"

Martha Honey explains how in the late 1980s, Costa Rica was turned from a staging ground for the US-funded contra war into a laboratory for "green" tourism. By 1993, tourism had become Costa Rica's number one foreign exchange earner, surpassing coffee and bananas. And, propelled by ecotourism, environmentalism had taken root in the national consciousness-just as a tradition of nonmilitarism had done earlier. Ecotourism has become part of a Costa Rican "self-identity." However, the "ecotourism" label is also slapped on "greenwashed" scams, but two certification programs help tourists find the real thing. Despite the green brush that is dragged over many hypes and shams, Costa Rica also contains scores of genuine ecotourism businesses that are working hard to be low impact, good environmental stewards, socially responsible, culturally respectful, and beneficial to surrounding communities.

Can be found in NACLA Report on the Americas, Volume 36, Number 6, May/June 2003.

To purchase a publication, please contact CRESTl at staff@responsibletravel.org