The latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization shows that international tourist arrivals grew by a striking 6% in the first six months of 2018 after a record year of growth in 2017. As global travel continues to boom, CREST is busier than ever supporting destination communities worldwide. This issue of CREST’s newsletter brings a wealth of updates, from a successful 2018 World Tourism Day Forum to an important development in U.S. travel to Cuba to our just-released Trends & Statistics publication.
We are excited to share our new video about CREST’s work to transform the way the world travels. Shown for the first time at our 2018 World Tourism Day Forum, this video is a reflection of our mission and values as an organization dedicated to increasing the positive impact of responsible tourism. Watch and share to help us celebrate our 15-year anniversary!
Experts Gather on World Tourism Day to Discuss Solutions to Overtourism
In response to the growing global problem of overtourism, CREST and The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies co-hosted a 2018 World Tourism Day Forum focused on finding solutions. The forum, which took place on September 27 in Washington, DC, brought together industry experts working on the front lines to address overtourism in their destinations. We’re thrilled by the enthusiastic responses we’re received about the forum, including an attendee who described it as “one of the best I've ever attended.” Learn more about the overtourism solutions discussed on World Tourism Day.
CREST’s largest single project in 2018 is in Oman, where we are developing for the Ministry of Tourism the sustainable tourism master plan of South Al Sharqiyah Governorate, the coastal region that runs south of Muscat. It is a region rich in natural beauty and cultural history. Together with our consortium partners, CREST is creating tourism clusters with focuses on adventure, ecotourism, wildlife viewing, maritime heritage, culture, family vacations, wellness, and other market segments. Read more about this exciting project.
In August, the U.S. State Department updated its Cuba travel advisory from “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” to “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.” This move was applauded by the CREST-led coalition of U.S. tour operators and organizations involved in travel to Cuba. Ahead of the decision, our coalition sent a letter to the State Department advocating for this change to Cuba’s travel advisory, and in late August we met with State Department officials to further discuss U.S. travel to Cuba. Learn more about this important step forward.
CREST is undertaking a two-year project to analyze and help strengthen small scale, boutique hotel and household-based tourism businesses in Cuba and compare their economic, social, and environmental impacts to large-scale cruise tourism. This project involves research studies and field work together with universities in Pinar del Rio and Holguín provinces as well as in Havana. Activities include supporting sustainable tourism workshops in spring and summer 2019 and organizing learning exchanges/study tours for academics from both universities. Check out the details of this fascinating project.
Now in its fourth year, CREST’s “Rarámuri Tourism Experiences” project is open for business. CREST’s local project coordinator, Daniela Ramirez, and her assistant, Perla Sylvestre, are working with two indigenous communities, the Huetosachi and Bacajipare, to offer tourism experiences in their communities, located in or on the rim of the spectacular Copper Canyon. Learn more about the unique travel experiences offered by these communities.
Between March and August 2018, CREST conducted two studies designed to identify obstacles and potentials for strengthening sustainable tourism in Alaska. These studies, conducted for the Edgerton Foundation, covered responsible tourism opportunities in Southeast Alaska as well as infrastructure and access to federal and state public lands. Read more about the work of our Alaska research team.
CREST is currently working to complete a direct economic impact assessment of the St. Kitts Music Festival, a project for the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism. The St. Kitts Music Festival is a premier three-day annual event, typically held at the end of June, that features international, regional, and local acts. Now in its 22nd year, the objective of the event is to bring outside spending into the economy during the tourism low-season and to be a source of local pride. The goal of CREST’s assessment is to provide the Ministry of Tourism with insights to assist in future planning, and it is scheduled to conclude in mid-October. Learn more.
On October 9, CREST released the sixth annual edition of The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2018. This year’s report includes an in-depth look at the complex issue of overtourism and the role of responsible travel in developing solutions. It also highlights growing consumer demand for authentic and meaningful travel experiences and analyzes the role of tourism businesses in mainstreaming responsible travel. Don’t miss our latest Trends & Statistics report, prepared in collaboration with 30 leading tourism organizations and institutions.
Support from responsibly-minded hotels and tour operators through our quarterly travel auctions remains vital to meeting CREST’s annual budget. We are tremendously grateful to the 17 inspiring companies that donated packages for our Summer Travel Auction! Our next auction will be the Holiday Auction, November 29 – December 13, and we are working hard to put together a full slate of top-notch trips. Check out our Summer Travel Auction donors and contact Kelsey Frenkiel for more information on taking part in our Holiday Auction.
CREST Platinum Sponsor CGH Earth conceives and organizes truly unique travel experiences over multiple destinations in southern India. We had a chance to catch up with CGH Earth staff about their commitment to promoting sustainability and providing authentic local experiences. Check it out.
CREST is pleased to welcome program and research intern Maureen Wyse to our team this fall. Maureen is currently a Master in Tourism Administration candidate at The George Washington University with a focus on Sustainable Destination Management. Prior to her studies at George Washington, Maureen managed a small bicycle tourism social enterprise in Battambang, Cambodia.
CREST’s internship program provides real-life sustainable tourism and nonprofit management experiences to outstanding students from around the world. Within in the next week, we’ll be sharing new communications and research internship opportunities for spring 2019. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more information on the application process!
CARE for the Cape and Islands, a travelers’ philanthropy program fiscally sponsored by CREST, held a 5-Year Anniversary celebration this past November, where they announced a special $5,000 grant award. The grant was awarded to Island Grown Initiative for a project to develop centralized waste stations for the annual Agricultural Fair, which typically draws more than 20,000 visitors over a four-day period. The Waste Station Project came to fruition in August 2018 and reduced landfill trash by 31%! This was especially significant given that there was record-breaking attendance, with over 40,000 people recorded. Read more.
In addition to our field work and studies, CREST makes it a priority to get out there and exchange knowledge to advance responsible travel. We recently had the opportunity to share our expertise in several venues: Skål International, Washington, DC’s monthly reception and dinner; a special screening of the film Blue Heart at Patagonia’s Washington location; and the Ecorismo 2018 conference in Ottawa, Canada, organized by the Ontario Economic Society. Learn more about our participation in these events.
We’re inspired by the many responsible travel opportunities and resources available this fall. Check out these industry announcements, including information on Impact Travel Alliance DC’s October 11 stakeholder meeting, the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, Bodhi Surf + Yoga’s Ocean Guardian Challenge, G Adventures’ new “Ripple Score” evaluation for local economies, and Impact Travel Alliance’s new thought leadership study and membership program.
CREST has engaged in intensive media outreach over the past several months, sharing our insights on overtourism, commenting on key developments in U.S. travel to Cuba, and discussing the importance of responsible tourism. We’ve appeared in outlets ranging from CNN to the Miami Herald to Travel Weekly. Check out articles featuring our work here.