Responsible tourism includes many types of travel, all of which aim to minimize tourism's negative
impacts on the environment and local communities while maximizing the positives. Traveling
responsibly is not about making sacrifices, stopping development, or staying home. It is about
designing trips carefully so that you're able to enjoy the experience you seek, while leaving a
positive footprint at the destination.
At the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), we have seen a shift in the types of travel experiences
consumers demand and an increase in sustainability initiatives and community involvement among the
tourism industry. A growing number of travelers are looking for authenticity, localization,
uniqueness, and a pristine environment. From the destination perspective, a competitive advantage is
created by offering those qualities. It pays for the destinations and travel businesses to protect
their "product," which goes hand in hand with sustainability and community well-being.
It is important to note "responsible travel" does not mean your trip has to be expensive. While a number of
luxury tourism companies have made tremendous strides in sustainability, budget and moderate
travelers have countless options as well. Destinations want you – responsible travelers – because you
spend your money staying in locally owned hotels, eating in non-chain restaurants, buying local
handicrafts, building bridges with different cultures, and acting with an environmental and social
conscience. Not only are you leaving more money behind in the pockets of locals, you are also
supporting the sense of place. It's not about how much money you spend – it's about where you spend
it. Responsible travel options are everywhere, but it is up to you – the traveler – to educate
yourself on how to get involved.
Here is some advice to help you on your journey:
- Check out
CREST's Responsible Travel Tips, where most of our tips can be found.
- Utilize the United States Travel Care Code, which provides travelers with simple guidlines on how they can reduce the impact of their travel on the environment.
- If you'd like to give back while traveling, see our
Dos and Don'ts of Travel Giving.
View the past donors to CREST Eco-Auctions, if you need
help picking out a hotel our tour operator.
Look into sustainable tourism certification programs in the places where you are traveling to
find out what tourism businesses are certified. The
Global Sustainable Tourism Council
(GSTC) has a really helpful list of approved and recognized certification programs.
- Visit websites like rainforest-alliance.org/green-vacations, globaltravelpress.com, bookgreener.com, and
responsibletravel.com, for more
hotel and tour operator alternatives.
- Don't just seek to be entertained by travel, seek to be transformed.
Check out the Transformational Travel Council's 11 Guilding Practices to help you on your journey.
- Consider visiting a place that has a formal geotourism program. Geotourism is defined as "tourism
that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place - its environment, culture,
aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents."
These destinations have
had MapGuides made by National Geographic Maps that help connect travelers with localized
experiences, though many other towns and rural regions offer similar experiences if you explore
what they have to offer.
Explore the organization Pack
for a Purpose, which allows you to simply use a small amount of space in your luggage to
pack supplies needed by community projects around the world that work with partner hotels.
Consider visiting a destination with a Travelers' Philanthropy program. CREST has helped to
establish destination-wide give-back programs in
Cape Cod and Monteverde, Costa Rica.
and St. Kitts also have robust programs. Don’t miss the Travelers' Philanthropy page
on our website to connect with individual travel companies all over the world that have
established community and environmental support programs.
We wish you the experiences of a lifetime!