Agrigento: 2020 Vision - Implementing a Sustainable Tourism Action Plan

This analysis, by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), examines key issues facing the new 325,000 acre Marine Reserve and the Reserve's two main economic sectors: commercial fishing and tourism. The study was funded by Turneffe Atoll Trust to better understand these issues.

The purpose of this analysis is twofold: 1) to determine measures for building a successful Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve that ensures sustainable tourism development and a sustainable commercial fishery, and 2) to analyze the potential for synergies between the Atolls's tourism and commercial fishing sectors.

CREST is proud to announce the release of 'Agrigento: 2020 Vision' a Sustainable Tourism Action Plan developed for Agrigento, Sicily, Italy. Martha Honey and CREST Consultant Juan Luna are returning to Agrigento this week for the official launch of the 20 20 Vision Action Plan!

The Action Plan identifes tourism-related investments and employment opportunities within an acceptable social and environmental safeguards framework. The plan focuses on the conservation of the cultural, historic and natural attributes of the city and its immediate surroundings while ensuring the socio-economic benefits of its local residents.


Alternative Development Models and Good Practices for Sustainable Costal Tourism: A Framework for Decision Makers in Mexico

Clic Aquí para la Versión en Español

The Framework for Decision Makers compiles existing good practices for sustainable, large-scale coastal tourism in Mexico.  In light of the Calderon administration’s reinvigoration of tourism, and the emphasis on competitiveness and sustainability in the National Tourism Accord and General Tourism Law, CREST has compiled existing good practices for resorts, vacation homes, marinas and golf courses in a clear, user-friendly format in Spanish and English.  The Framework for Decision Makers also addresses several broader tourism policy issues such as suggestions for the incomplete reglamento of the GeneralTourism Law, tourism planning for climate change, consumer demand, and good practices in site selection.  Taken together, the Framework for Decision Makers demonstrates what truly sustainable integrated tourism development looks like.

“This is not a technical manual for engineers, nor a tip sheet for travelers,” says co-author David Krantz, “but rather a practical handbook based on existing good practices in use today.  It can serve as a basis for development decisions and tourism policy going forward.”

The research findings, analysis, and recommendations in this report are intended to play a constructive role in helping to foment public discussion, civic engagement, and policy reforms to ensure sustainable development of coastal and marine tourism.

3rd International Travelers' Philanthropy Conference Proceedings, Costa Rica, 2011:

CREST hosted the latest international conference on traveler's philanthropy in San Jose and Monteverde, Costa Rica July 20-23rd 2011. The conference brought together 100 practitioners from socially responsible tourism businesses, experts in the field of sustainable tourism and philanthropy, community based organizations and global and regional NGOs doing development work, philanthropic foundations, government, and the media. A growing number of leading tourism businesses, charitable organizations, and international agencies also co-sponsored the event. The goal of the conference was to promote, guide, and strengthen travel philanthropy as an emerging form of development assistance generated by travelers and the tourism industry.

Conference Proceedings available on CD-ROM ($20). To purchase a copy, contact

The Importance of Ecotourism as a Conservation and Development Tool in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Click Here for a free, downloadable copy of the full report (1.5 MB)
Click here for the Key Findings
Click here for the press release

Clic Aqui para leer el reportaje en Español

This 70 page study, based on field interviews and research, demonstrates the positive economic contributions of ecotourism in the Osa Peninsula, as well as its potential, if better organized, to generate even more social, economic and environmental benefits for local communities.

The Key Findings include:

  • Income: Tourism workers earn on average twice as much each month as workers not in tourism ($710 vs. $357).
  • Local employment: Tourism workers are younger, more predominantly male, and far more likely to be from the Osa than non-tourism workers (58% vs. 35%). Tourism workers also exhibit a greater entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to change jobs according to opportunities and personal goals than do non-tourism workers.
  • National parks: Tourists list visiting Corcovado National Park as their primary reason for coming to the Osa Peninsula; park visitation has doubled since 2002. All residents surveyed (both tourism and non-tourism workers) expressed an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards protected areas which make up 80% of the Osa Peninsula. This appears to represent a substantial shift in the attitudes of Osa residents who historically opposed the top down declaration of Corcovado and other parks and the exclusion of local people who had depended on these lands for their livelihoods.
  • Tourist attitudes: 62% say traveling “responsibly” is “important” or “very important” to them and over 80% say it is important that their hotel be socially and environmentally responsible. However, 73% admitted they did nothing to verify their hotel’s environmental practices, while 81% did nothing to verify the hotel’s social practices.
  • Cost of travel and willingness to pay: Tourists perceive their visit to be “good value” and 66% expressed a willingness to pay an average of $177 more for the same experience, including $42 more to visit Corcovado National Park. In addition, more than half – 58% - say they are willing to contribute an average of $68 more to support local community and conservation projects. This indicates that with better organization, the Osa Peninsula could be capturing more tourism dollars, both through increased rates and traveler donations.

Travelers’ Philanthropy Handbook

Click here for a free, downloadable copy of the Handbook (9.5 MB).
Click here to order a hard copy or CD-Rom.
Click here to read experts’ comments on the Handbook.
Click here to view the press release.
Click here for a small banner ad for Handbook to post on your website.

This seminal CREST publication marks the first comprehensive publication on travelers’ philanthropy. This 250-page Handbook includes original essays, case studies, and surveys by some 30 exerts, plus a Foreword by Nobel Peace Laureate, Dr. Wangari Maathai. The Handbook covers the principles, origins and growth of travelers’ philanthropy and offers practical ‘how to’ advice, do’s and don’ts, and best practices for businesses, community organizations, and travelers interested in developing or participating in travel ‘give back’ programs.


Click Below to download Handbook chapters individually.

  • Chapter 1: Core Components of Travelers' Philanthropy
    • Origin and Overview of Travelers' Philanthropy by: Martha Honey
    • Travelers' Philanthropy and the Good Samaritan by: David (Jonah) Western
    • What is Successful Philanthropy? by: Mark J. Spalding
  • Chapter 2: Approaches to Travelers' Philanthropy - Case Studies
    • Overview of Various Models by: Martha Honey
    • Intrepid Travel and The Intrepid Foundation by: Jane Crouch
    • Myths and Mountains and READ Global by: Antonia Neubauer
    • International Galapagos Tours Operators Association (IGTOA) by: David Blanton
    • Holbrook Travel and Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center by: Andrea Holbrook
    • Hotel Punta Islita by: Maria J. Barquero
    • Rock Resorts and Vail Resorts by: Julie Klein
    • Villages of Loreto Bay and Loreto Bay Foundation by: Mark J. Spalding
    • Calabash Tours & Calabash Trust by: Paul Miedema
    • New York Restoration Project's Ne Leaf Restaurant & Bar by: Nik Charov, Lauren Loeb
    • Country Walkers by: Sonya Bradley
    • Educational Travel and Travelers' Philanthropy - The Gambia by: Marina Novelli
    • Global Sojourns and the GS Giving Circle by: Priscilla Macy
    • GoPhilanthropic by: Lydia Dean
    • Elevate Destinations by: Dominique Callimanopulos, Kristie Giannetto
    • Monteverde - A Destination-Level Travelers' Philanthropy Initiative by: Robert Bailes
  • Chapter 3: Voluntourism
    • Voluntourism - An Overview by: Kristin Lamoureux
    • Advice for Potential Voluntourists by: Via International
    • PEPY Tours and Voluntourism by: Daniela Ruby Papi
    • Consumer Interest in Voluntourism by: Martha Honey
  • Chapter 4: Engaging Tourism Businesses
    • How Companies Can Establish and Manage Giving Programs by: Jane Crouch
    • Working with Donors in Travel-Based Philanthropy by: Lars Lindkvist
    • Communications and Marketing of Travelers' Philanthropy Programs by: Andrew Bill
    • The Ask - Or is it the Offer? by: Sam Ham
    • Survey of Tour Operators in Arusha, Tanzania by: Johanna Wolff
    • Readiness Check List for Businesses by: Judy Kepher-Gona
  • Chapter 5: Engaging Communities and Local Organizations
    • How to Manage Interaction with Community Projects by: Jane Crouch
    • Survey of Recipient Organizations in Arusha, Tanzania by: Jessie Davie
    • The School of St. Jude: What Can I send?
    • Rift Valley Children's Village (RVCV) Visitor Policy by: India Howell
    • Unwanted Philanthropy by: Priscilla Macy and Jane Crouch
  • Chapter 6: Engaging Travelers
    • Unintended Consequences of the Travelers' Best Intentions by: David Abernethy
    • Consumer Demand for Travelers' Philanthropy by: Martha Honey
    • Why Travelers' Become Philanthropists: Donor Motivations by: Jill Talladay
    • My Role as a Guide in Promoting Travelers' Philanthropy by: Juan Carlos Yanez
    • Legal Issues - Incentives to Give by: Keir Gumbs
  • Chapter 7: Conclusion
    • Lessons Learned and Best Practices by: Martha Honey
    • Additional Resources
    • Biographies of Authors
    • About Center for Responsible Travel

Travelers’ philanthropy is tourism businesses and travelers making concrete contributions of “time, talent, and treasure” to projects in tourism destinations beyond what is generated through the normal tourism business. Although a relatively new form of corporate social responsibility (CSR), travelers’ philanthropy is growing rapidly and is now widely considered a core component of responsible travel.

Because CREST promotes knowledge sharing and encourages wide adoption of good practice, we are making the Handbook available for free on our websites. We ask only that when quoting or referencing materials contained in the Handbook, please cite according to the guidelines on the inside of the front cover.

The Handbook is the latest addition to CREST’s Travelers’ Philanthropy ‘tool-kit’ of resources which also includes a website (, video documentary (“Giving Time, Talent, and Treasure”), Experts Bureau, training courses, and other publications.

To order printed copies of the Handbook for $35 each (including shipping) or a copy of the Handbook on CD-Rom for $20, please call our Washington DC office at 202-347-9203 x 417.

Join the discussion on CREST’s Facebook group.

In addition:
Click here for details about the 3rd International Travelers’ Philanthropy Conference, July 20-23 2011.

Impact of Tourism Related Development along Costa Rica's Pacific Coast,

This multi-dimensional study, carried out over two years by researchers in Costa Rica and the U.S., has assessed the growth, trends, and impacts of tourism and tourism-related development along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. The region examined runs from Guanacaste (including the Nicoya Peninsula, Gulf of Papagayo, and Liberia) in the north through to the Central Pacific (including Jaco, Quepos-Manuel Antonio and Puntarenas) down to the Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce in the south. It compares the increasingly dominant models of coastal and marine tourism – characterized by large resorts, vacation homes (“residential tourism”), and cruise tourism – with Costa Rica’s widely acclaimed model of ecotourism and sustainable tourism which has evolved over the last two decades.

Click here to download full report. Click here to read more on the report and to access 18 other reports surrounding the study. Click here to read the press coverage of the summary report from Costa Rica.

The Market for Responsible Tourism Products with a special focus on Latin America and Nepal,

This report, commissioned by SNV Nepal and written by David Krantz and CREST, provides market data and effective marketing strategies to assist tourism businesses and networks in Nepal and six Latin American countries (Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru) where SNV is involved in initiatives aimed at strengthening responsible tourism. Broadly stated, this report examines the consumer and industry demand and major trends for responsible tourism in key outbound countries (or source markets) in Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom) and North America (United States and Canada). The report is a useful guide for managers of sustainable tourism businesses and Destination Management Organizations seeking to attract conscientious consumers.

Tourism in the Developing World, Promoting Peace and Reducing Poverty

The following four essays were prepared as background documents for the USIP Special Report, Tourism in the Developing World: Promoting Peace and Reducing Poverty which is posted above. A grant from USIP provided funds for these authors and Aditi Chanchani from Equations to attend CREST’s Travelers’ Philanthropy Conference, held in Arusha, Tanzania in December 2008.

Tourism: Preventing Conflict, Promoting Peace, by Martha Honey, Ph.D, CREST

Ecotourism, Conservation and Development in East Africa: How the Philanthropic Traveler Can Make a Difference, by David (Jonah) Western, Ph.D.

Tourism in India: Role in Conflict and Peace, by EQUATIONS, India

Peace and Tourism in Nigeria, by Bola Olusola Adeleke, Ph.D., Redeemer’s University, Nigeria

Dos and Don'ts of Travel Giving

Travelers' desire to help, interact, and learn from those they meet during their holiday is clearly positive. However, there are sometimes unintended consequences from these good intentions. Misguided contributions can perpetuate cycles of dependency, cause corruption, burden communities with unwanted or inappropriate donations, and require recipients to spend time and resources to handle "gifts" they didn't request or cannot use.

As part of our Travelers’ Philanthropy program, the Center for Responsible Travel asked a dozen experienced tour operators and tourism organizations who are engaged in supporting local community projects how they respond to some of the most frequently asked questions and suggestions from travelers about "giving" while on holiday. Though they sometimes expressed differing views, overall they agree that when, how, and what to contribute needs to be decided by the host community, not the tourist or the tourism company.

Convenient format: Travel Giving Dos and Don'ts Bookmark (PDF)
Travel Giving Dos and Don'ts (PDF)
Travel Giving Dos and Don'ts (Extended Version) (PDF)
Additional Resources (PDF)

The above three reports contain a summary of the experts' responses. They are intended to highlight some of the complexities behind donation and help build a more enlightened traveling public. They are also intended to assist tourism businesses in crafting appropriate ways to harness the goodwill and generosity of their guests while meeting genuine needs in the host communities.

2008 Travelers' Philanthropy Film

Ahead of the 2008 Travelers' Philanthropy Conference in Tanzania, CREST (then CESD) designed and commissioned a documentary film on Travelers' Philanthropy. The film was shot and produced by two talented young filmmakers, Charlene Music and Peter Jordan. Using case studies from Costa Rica to Tanzania, the film highlighted several companies active in travel philanthropy, offering an exclusive under-the-hood view of the process behind successful philanthropy programs in health, education, and sustainable community development. Interviews were completed with travel industry experts, as well as with community members from areas being served by travel philanthropy programs. The film offers a balanced view of the immense potential of travel philanthropy, as well as the challenges and possible pitfalls that make it so important to begin projects with care and attention to detail.

click above to watch a clip from the documentary. The full documentary is for sale and available via paypal or from our offices. Cost is $15 with shipping included. Buy the first ever documentary on Travelers' Philanthropy today!

If you have any purchasing questions, please contact

2008 Travelers' Philanthropy Conference Proceedings

CREST (then CESD) hosted the latest international conference on travel philanthropy in Arusha, Tanzania, December 3-5th 2008. The conference brought together 230 practitioners from socially responsible tourism businesses, experts in the field of sustainable tourism and philanthropy, community based organizations and global and regional NGOs doing development work, the United Nations and other development agencies, philanthropic foundations, government, and the media. A growing number of leading tourism businesses, charitable organizations, and international agencies also co-sponsored the event. The goal of the conference was to promote, guide, and strengthen travel philanthropy as an emerging form of development assistance generated by travelers and the tourism industry.

Conference Proceedings available on CD-ROM ($20). To purchase via the secure payment portal Paypal click the button below:

Please contact us if you have any questions at

"Global Trends in Coastal Tourism", a study funded by WWF

In 2007, CREST (then CESD) was commissioned by the Marine Program of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington, DC to analyze the current global trends in coastal tourism. The goal of the study was to test WWF’s working hypothesis about the main drivers behind coastal and marine tourism, and then to propose what interventions would be most useful should WWF develop a new tourism program. This study examines the structure of the tourism industry, the main types of tourism, the impacts (economic, environmental, and social) of marine and coastal tourism and the global trends in tourism development, financing and marketing. It also analyzes coastal and marine tourism in several key regions identified by WWF as being of the highest priority due to the diversity of life they support, the threats they face, and WWF’s ability to have a positive impact on them over the next decade. This extensive report of our findings concludes with recommended interventions that WWF could take as a way to begin addressing the threats that coastal tourism development poses to biodiversity conservation and the well being of destination communities.

Download the full report (English) (PDF, 140 pp.)
Download the executive summary (English) (PDF, 7 pp.)
Download Appendix I: Regional Report on East Africa (PDF, 35 pp.)
Download Appendix II: Regional Report on Central America (PDF, 50 pp.)
Download Appendix III: Regional Report on Coral Triangle (PDF, 39 pp.)

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)

"Cruise Tourism Impacts in Costa Rica and Honduras: Policy Recommendations for Decision Makers"

Since early 2005, CREST (formerly CESD), in partnership with INCAE Business School of Costa Rica and Environmental Defense, has been taking a close look at cruise tourism in Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Costa Maya, Mexico. Through thousands of cruise passenger surveys and several hundred interviews with those directly involved in the tourism industry, the Center has collected data on cruise tourism's economic social and environmental impacts. Careful analysis of firsthand views, combined with detailed review of the industry's economic data, indicate a real need for improvements to the way cruise tourism is typically handled throughout the region.

Download the full report in English (PDF, 78 pp.)
Download the full report in Spanish (PDF)

"Cruise Tourism in Belize: Perceptions of Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts"

This study of perceived impacts of cruise tourism was made possible through a partnership between CREST (formerly CESD), the INCAE Business School of Costa Rica, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and Belize’s Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT). The study examines the terrestrial impacts – economic, social and environmental – of cruise tourism as they are viewed in Belize. It is based on field research, carried out in 2005 using academic protocols, involving over 600 surveys with cruise passengers and over 100 interviews with a range of stakeholders in Belize. Through analysis of cruise passenger and exit surveys (the latter conducted in 2003 by the Belize Tourism Board and Central Bank of Belize), the study compares spending patterns, activities, perceptions and preferences of cruise and stayover visitors. It also compares the history, policy making, and public debate around cruise tourism and ecotourism, while comparing the two with respect to employment, taxes, and generated public revenue.

Download the Full Report (PDF, 143 pp.)
Download the Executive Summary (PDF)

2004 Travelers' Philanthropy Conference Proceedings

In April 2004, CREST (then CESD) hosted a major conference on Travelers' Philanthropy at Stanford University, in California. This conference brought together nearly 80 tour operators, UN officials, academics, foundation representatives, and NGOs to discuss how to best harness tourists' interest in giving back to the often impoverished communities that they visit. Through a combination of "time, talent, and treasure," participants learned, there are many ways to work constructively with host communities. However, poorly planned projects can result in unintended negative consequences. This packet of conference proceedings includes a CDROM of powerpoint presentations, bios for conference presenters, a directory of existing philanthropic activities, and more.

Available in CD-ROM and hard copy ($25). To purchase, please contact

"Consumer Demand and Operator Support for Socially and Environmentally Responsible Ecotourism"

Despite recent setbacks to the international tourism industry, including economic recession, disease outbreaks, terrorist attacks, and the war on terrorism, both consumers and travel companies show strong support for responsible tourism. Through a survey of recent studies of tourists and tour operators in the US, Europe, Costa Rica, and Australia, this report by Zoe Chafe shows that consumers are willing to pay more for ethical practices, contribute to community projects, and support tourism certification programs. It discusses responsible tourism challenges, such as confusions from competing eco-labels; and conundrums, including tourists' professed interest in using hotels that protect the environment, yet lack of inquiry about hotel policies. A four page summary of this report is also available.

Download Report (PDF, 20 pp.)

"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.

Click here for a free, downloadable copy of the full report

"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.

"Helping Communities Build Economic Assets & Sustain Environmental & Cultural Resources in an Era of Rapid Globalization"

In all regions of the world, a new source of international development aid called " Travelers' Philanthropy" is evolving. civic-minded travelers and travel businesses are giving time, talent and financial resources to further the well-being of the places that they visit.

Travelers Philanthropy Report

To purchase a hard copy version of any of our publications, please contact

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