CREST Newsletter | January - March 2020

From the Executive Director

In this time of unprecedented challenge and uncertainty, we at CREST would like to take a moment to express our appreciation for all of you. We are so grateful for your partnership and continued belief in our mission, even in the most difficult times.

Our hearts are with everyone who has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are committed to providing you with responsible travel research and analysis to help support the tourism industry in the months ahead. While we all must do our part to stay home to protect our communities today, we know that travel will play an important role in the world’s recovery tomorrow. And our current journey gives us a new perspective on things we have perhaps taken for granted or undervalued.

Though people in many parts of the world are distancing ourselves physically, we have never been more interconnected. Even with the near cessation of travel, we are seeing the power of community everywhere. People are standing in solidarity with one another. They are responding with resolve and often with innovation. The rise and spread of COVID-19 is clearly demonstrating the interdependence of people and place, wildlife and ecosystems, and the need for us to manage these natural and cultural systems in a holistic way.

At CREST, we work to be part of this change and will do everything to continue developing and supporting sustainable travel solutions. The CREST team is already set up for full operation remotely and has the systems and structures in place to continue our partnerships and services. These are exceptionally challenging times, but we believe that together, we can emerge from this crisis stronger and better through responsible travel and sustainable tourism.

Meanwhile, take care of yourselves. You are not alone! The CREST team stands with you.

Yours in responsible travel,

Gregory Miller, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Responsible Travel Roundup Shares Resources on COVID-19

From webinars to resource guides to thought leadership, the tourism community is shifting rapidly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. CREST is committed to sharing resources to help support the travel industry during these challenging times. One piece of that support is our recently-launched email series, the Responsible Travel Roundup, which will deliver news updates and resources on COVID-19. You’ll find the next issue of the Roundup in your inboxes on Friday, April 3. If you know someone who would benefit from receiving CREST’s recap of key travel and tourism news and information, they can sign up for our emails at the bottom of our homepage.

CREST Academic Affiliates Discuss Tourism in a Changing Climate

In January, CREST held our second annual e-meeting with our Academic Affiliates network. 13 of the world’s leading tourism academics gathered to discuss the topic of Tourism in a Changing Climate and heard presentations from three tourism and climate change experts: Scott Curtis, Professor of Geography, Planning, and Environment, East Carolina University; Rodolfo Dirzo, Professor of Biology and Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University; and Jonathan Day, Associate Professor, School of Hospitality and Environment, Purdue University.

High-level discussions of climate change and its connection to other drivers of global change – such as biodiversity loss and land use change – were paired with conversations about tourism businesses’ responses to weather forecasting and spreading awareness among travelers. CREST will continue to seek solutions to Tourism in a Changing Climate that are grounded in science and evidence-based recommendations.

New Spanish-Language Publication on Small-Scale Tourism

This spring, CREST will release a free, Spanish-language resource on small-scale tourism. This publication builds of CREST’s work in Cuba in 2019, when we sponsored two workshops on the subject: the GESTUR 2019 National Tourism Management Symposium hosted by the University of Holguín and the VI Sustainable Tourism Workshop hosted by the University of Pinar del Río. Both workshops brought together notable international experts and scholars of tourism studies from all over the Americas, with particular emphasis on Costa Rica, to share their experiences and knowledge.

The information presented in both workshops inspired CREST to compile a collection of articles as a foundational resource on small-scale tourism to disseminate and expand the ideas that emerged in those shared spaces, converting technical information and academic research in an easily-understandable resource. The collection is headed by an analysis of the fluctuating U.S.-Cuba travel policies imposed by different governments of the United States up to the present. The rest of the articles address other topics highlighted in the meetings: local tourist destinations; private sector initiatives and their contribution to local development; nature and wellness tourism; tourist accommodation companies; cultural tourism; and community-based tourism. Follow CREST on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get your free digital copy of this forthcoming publication.

Travel Companies Support CREST Initiatives Through Our Valentine's Day Travel Auction

CREST’s Valentine’s Day Travel Auction was held January 28 – February 11, featuring packages from responsible travel leaders Hostelling International USA*, Hotel El Ganzo*, Hotel Otavalo* Ka'ana Resort*, Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve*, Soneva*, Spirit Bear Lodge*, Tierra Hotels*, UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa*, The Betsy, Caiman Ecological Refuge, Cannúa Lodge, The Emerson Inn, Cape Ann Foodie Tours, Itz'ana Resort, Marine Dynamics, Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary, Shik Shack Backpackers & Community Tours, and Visit Natives.

Thank you to these inspiring and generous companies who integrate sustainability into their work every day and support our efforts to expand the reach of responsible travel. These are troubled times for our industry, and we invite you to support CREST and companies that are committed to environmental sustainability and social responsibility through our upcoming Spring Travel Auction. Stay tuned for the launch date, and begin dreaming about your 2021 getaway. While we are all doing our part by staying at home to protect each other during this uncertain time, together we can also ensure our future travel plans do the most good.

*Denotes Platinum Sponsorship, which means that the donor has committed to supporting CREST auctions for a period of five years to fund responsible travel research and development.

CARE for the Cape & Islands Works to Reduce Smoking Waste

CARE for the Cape & Islands, a fiscally sponsored program of CREST, was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Hyannis Rotary Club. The grant will be used for a pilot project to reduce cigarette butt litter within the town of Barnstable through the installation of Sidewalk Buttlers along busy Main Street and at town beaches.

Smoking waste constitutes 30% of the total litter by count on U.S. shorelines, waterways, and on land. Cigarette butts are usually the most common piece of litter collected along waterways during the Ocean Conservancy’s yearly International Coastal Cleanup. Cape Cod’s attraction to new residents, businesses, tourists, and retirees depends on its reputation for unspoiled natural beauty. Investing in this reputation benefits all 46,000+ year-round residents and 120,000+ summer residents of the Town of Barnstable. CARE currently invests in education and ongoing message campaigns to foster responsible behavior, but practical resources to accommodate smoking waste are a vital part of the integrated solution.

CARE will carefully monitor the direct impact of this pilot phase of Sidewalk Buttler installation, with hopes of many more installations across Barnstable and Cape Cod. Beyond the direct impact of collected litter, we believe visible anti-litter resources project an image of a community that cares.

Corona-crisis: A Destination Management Opportunity

The Destination Stewardship Center, a Fiscally Sponsored Program of CREST, recently shared insights on how destinations can and should start their COVID-19 tourism recovery plans now. In this thought-provoking piece, Destination Stewardship Center CEO and Portal Editor Jonathan Tourtellot argues that the current crisis provides destinations with the opportunity to change the way they plan and manage in order to prevent the recurrence of overtourism in the future.

Responsible Travel Leaders Join CREST as Platinum Sponsors

CREST’s work is made possible through support from industry partners who are committed to funding global sustainable tourism initiatives and advancing responsible policies and practices in their own business. The following exemplary companies have recently committed to supporting CREST for a period of five years:

  • Spirit Bear Lodge, Canada: Located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, Spirit Bear Lodge offers world class wildlife tours and Indigenous cultural experiences second to none. Spirit Bear Lodge is Indigenous owned, offering exclusive access within the Kitasoo Xai'xais traditional territory, and is committed to the protection of the territory and preservation of the planet.

  • Tierra Hotels, Chile: From the beginning, the aim at Tierra Hotels was to create sustainable lodges with inviting spaces designed to connect visitors with the beauty of Chile. Located in remote and inspiring destinations amid stunning scenery, Tierra Hotels is committed to minimizing their impact on the environment and becoming ever-more eco-conscious.

  • UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa, Brazil: UXUA is a five-star boutique spa hotel set harmoniously in the center of Trancoso, an atmospheric fishing village founded by Jesuit missionaries in the 1500s. Still neighbored by pristine beaches, mangroves, and rainforest, UXUA Vida Lab conducts research on advanced nutrition and spa treatments utilizing the amazing biodiversity of the area.

Welcome, Spring Interns!

CREST is pleased to welcome our newest interns for the spring, Megan Reese and Rashi Tolani, who are working on responsible travel programs and research.

Megan Reese graduated Magna Cum Laude from Belmont University with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Leadership Studies and a minor in Public Relations. While at university, she studied abroad in Australia, Switzerland, and Spain. It was in Australia that she realized her love for travel and tourism. In Australia, she had the opportunity to visit the Great Barrier Reef but was disappointed in the lack of colorful reefs as a result of coral bleaching. During this time, she realized the need to promote and educate others on sustainable tourism in order to preserve the environment and local culture. This past fall, Megan was an intern at the Howard County Conservancy, working on the county's high school watershed report card.

Rashi Tolani is currently a senior at The University of Maryland – College Park pursuing a double degree in international relations and economics with a minor in Arabic. She is an international student and moved to the United States from Dubai, UAE four years ago to continue her higher education. Rashi grew up with the opportunity to travel internationally to countries such as India, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. These experiences traveling and studying abroad, combined with her upbringing, helped cultivate her passion for responsible tourism. She speaks Hindi and holds intermediate proficiency in Arabic.

CREST Seeks Summer 2020 Interns

CREST’s internship program provides real-life sustainable tourism and nonprofit management experiences to outstanding students from around the world. We are currently seeking two Program & Research Interns to join our team starting in mid-May 2020. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, we are accepting applications only from candidates who are able to fully participate in the internship remotely. Applications are due by Wednesday, April 15. Visit our website to learn more and apply today.

CREST Shares Our Experience

In addition to our field work and research, CREST makes it a priority to exchange knowledge to advance responsible travel. Our recent speaking engagements include:

  • University of North Texas: In March, CREST Program Manager Kelsey Frenkiel led a discussion on tourism policymaking and planning with graduate students in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at the University of North Texas. The session was facilitated online through CREST Academic Affiliate and Associate Professor at UNT, Birendra KC.

  • U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program: In February, CREST Executive Director Gregory Miller met with a group of Tunisian tourism professionals invited to the United States through the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. His remarks to the group covered how tourism can be leveraged to support local economic development and the importance of protecting precious natural and cultural resources.

  • Virginia Tech: Building upon CREST’s focus on Tourism in a Changing Climate, CREST Managing Director Samantha Bray spoke to two tourism classes at Virginia Tech on the topic in February. Objectives of Samantha’s presentation were to help students make concrete connections between tourism and climate change, visualize challenges, and understand current and potential solutions.

CREST in the News

In early 2020, CREST's media outreach focused on how travelers can reduce their carbon footprints and make a positive impact on local environments and communities. Check out these media highlights from the last three months:

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