CREST Newsletter | April - June 2018

2018 represents a wonderful milestone for CREST: Our 15-year anniversary! At this time of celebration, we pause to reflect on our legacy. We've worked in destination communities from the beaches of the Caribbean to the mountains of Ethiopia to the deserts of Oman to the canyons of Mexico to the rainforests of Costa Rica, and many places in between. We are grateful for the opportunity to get to know the special people of this world and to help them leverage tourism as a force for good. At a time when our world may seem more divided than ever, our work is more important than ever. Will you help support us? Here's to the next 15 years. Take a look at this snapshot of the past three months as we've furthered our vision to transform the way the world travels.


Oman: CREST and Partners Creating Sustainable Tourism Master Plan


Photo: Traditional Omani fishing boat, James MacGregor

CREST executive director Martha Honey is currently in Oman, together with CREST consultants James MacGregor and Mike Robbins, as part of the next phase of a project to create Sustainable Tourism Master Plans for South Al Sharqiah Governorate. CREST, in partnership with three other firms, is involved in developing a sustainable tourism strategy for the Ministry of Tourism. CREST and its consortium partners have proposed the master plans include seven tourism clusters along the coast and in the interior region south of the Omani capital, Muscat. The proposed circuits are rich in cultural heritage, natural diversity, and scenic beauty, ranging from white sand beaches (some with nesting turtles) and Masirah, Oman’s only island, to deserts, mountains, and wadis, archeological sites, national parks and reserves, waterfalls, acacia forests, Bedouin camps, dune ecosystems, and coastal corniches (roads cut into the edge of cliffs) running to the town of Sur, which offers a mix of heritage sites and modern services.

In May, CREST and its partners submitted an Inception Report based on desk-based research of existing documents and an initial site visit in April. James MacGregor represented CREST on the site visit and wrote major portions of the Inception Report.  

Oman is rapidly becoming an international tourism destination. The Oman government is investing heavily in its tourism sector, and Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Mahrizi is putting emphasis on developing sustainable tourism. The CREST project will cater to a range of travelers interested in nature, adventure, cultural, heritage, sun and sand, and eco- tourism activities. While some tourism accommodations exist in the South Al Sharqiah Governorate, the new master plans propose a range of new lodging, including tented camps and small ecolodges.

CREST’s role is as the lead technical advisor and content provider for the project’s tourism components. In addition to the three members in Oman, CREST’s team includes David Michelmore who specializes in heritage tourism and archeological restoration, David Wells, a science and educational museum professional, and Samantha Bray, CREST’s managing director.  The project is expected to run through 2018.

Photo: 7 Proposed Tourism Clusters for South Al Sharqiyah Governorate

Onsite GSTC Destination Assessment Completed in Cozumel, Mexico

In June, CREST submitted the final report of its onsite Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Assessment of the island of Cozumel, Mexico’s leading cruise tourism destination. This marks the official conclusion of CREST’s six-month project to assess the sustainability of tourism in Cozumel, based on the GSTC criteria and methodology.  The overall objective of the GSTC Destination Assessment in Cozumel was to identify risk areas and key initiatives and projects to improve sustainable tourism management practices in Cozumel.

The GSTC Destination Assessment was carried out by two Mexican-based tourism experts, Dr. Kennedy Obombo Magio and Valerie Sera, with Martha Honey serving as the project director. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the United States is working on the destination assessment in Cozumel in collaboration with WWF-Mexico, WWF-Mesoamerican Reef Program, GSTC, GIZ (in English, the German Corporation for International Cooperation), the Municipality of Cozumel, and an inclusive group of local stakeholders from the public, private, and civil society sectors.
On March 26, CREST conducted the final onsite phase by holding a workshop in Cozumel to present the key findings of the GSTC Destination Assessment and engage Cozumel stakeholders in prioritizing and developing action plans to implement the GSTC recommendations.

This workshop, attended by some 50 stakeholders including the Mayor of the Cozumel Municipality, focused on ten key recommendations identified through the GSTC-Destination Assessment process as risk areas. The participants then selected what they considered the five most important areas to be addressed to improve compliance with the GSTC Criteria and WWF indicators and developed Action Plans to address each of these five recommendations. The stakeholder-driven Action Plans, as well as full summary of assessment findings are included in the final GSTC Destination Assessment report.

To assess the destination, CREST applied the GSTC Criteria for Destinations, as well as supplemental indicators contributed by WWF, consistent with WWF’s Marine and Coastal Tourism Strategy. The GSTC Criteria for Destinations cover the four main themes of destination sustainability: (1) sustainability management; (2) economic benefits to the host community; (3) community, visitor, and cultural well-being; and (4) environmental protection. While a GSTC Destination Assessment does not confer any type of certification, it is widely recognized as a critical tool for helping destinations to improve their sustainability practices and to help a destination determine its readiness to undertake destination-wide certification by a GSTC Accredited certification program, should it wish to do so.

Photo (Above): Snorkeling at Dzul Ha in Cozumel, Julie Falk. Creative Commons.

CREST followed the GSTC Destination Assessment methodology, working closely with the destination to collect and analyze policies, studies, and laws in Cozumel and to identify key stakeholders to be consulted as part of the assessment. In late January, CREST consultants Magio and Sera conducted an on-site evaluation and stakeholder meetings with some 60 experts from a range of sectors in Cozumel. They worked in collaboration with the office of the Cozumel Municipality, directed by Francisco Javier Pizaña Alonso, which coordinated onsite logistics and inclusive outreach to stakeholders.

CREST, together with Magio and Sera, conducted an earlier GSTC Assessment in the southern part of Sinaloa state in Mexico. CREST is pleased to report that Sinaloa has recently created a Destination Management Organization, one of the key GSTC Assessment recommendations.


World Wildlife Fund & CREST Partner on Caribbean Tourism Food Waste Initiative

In April, CREST embarked on a project with World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s Food Waste program to better understand the food waste landscape in the Caribbean tourism industry. Previously, in collaboration with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and with generous support from The Rockefeller Foundation, WWF released a toolkit called Hotel|Kitchen to help hotel properties and brands meet measurable, time-bound goals to reduce food waste. After initial successes of this program in the U.S., WWF now seeks to expand the program to the Caribbean.

CREST worked in close collaboration with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA)’s Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) to conduct interviews with hotel managers, government authorities, academics, and food banks to better understand prevention, donation, and diversion activities across the Caribbean. With their help, CREST and WWF also released a region-wide food management survey. Within the landscape report, CREST shared that though there is considerable perceived interest among Caribbean hotels to reduce food waste, at present, opportunities for both preventing food waste and diverting food waste from landfills is an issue in the tourism industry.

The next stages of this project will include implementing a food waste reduction pilot through the Hotel|Kitchen platform at two properties in the Caribbean, the results of which will be published on the HotelKitchen.org website so that they can be replicated across the sector. Additionally, CREST will help to further analyze the results of the food management survey distributed among Caribbean hotels to determine current food waste practices and interest in continued program development. 


Rarámuri Tourism Experiences Wins Award, Launches New Website, and Strengthens Its Community-Run Tours

Over the last three months, CREST’s project with two indigenous communities, Huetosachi and Bacajipare, has made great strides in promoting and further perfecting their community-based and led tourism experiences. The communities are located near the Cooper Canyon, the popular tourism attraction in Chihuahua state. The project is led by CREST’s two local coordinators, Daniela Ramirez, CREST’s field director, and Laura Barragan, the program assistant, with technical support from CREST and Mauricio Miramontes, director of Mano del Mono, a Chiapas-based NGO specializing in tourism in indigenous communities. It also receives assistance from CONTEC, a Chihuahua-based NGO. The tourism experiences include traditional cooking and handicrafts offered by a group of Huetosachi women and story-telling legends along five different hiking trails offered by trained guides from Bacajipare.

In April, Daniela, Laura, and Mauricio arranged for members from the communities to take part in two out-of-state events at which they promoted the Rarámuri Tourism Experiences, both in person and in television interviews. With the support of Mauricio, the project applied for and WON the 2018 National Cultural Tourism Award given by the Tourism Ministry SECTUR. A member from each community received the award at the Tianguis Turistico, a national tourism fair, which was held in mid-April in Mazatlán in Sinaloa state.

Then at the end of the month, a group of women from Huetosachi took part in COMALI, the gastronomy fair in Mexico City. With SECTUR funding and support, the women and Daniela ran a booth to demonstrate their traditional cuisine and showcase their woven reed baskets.

In May, community members from both Bacajipare and Huetosachi participated in the “Cluster Turistico” event in Chihuahua City. They presented their Rarámuri Experiences to some 15 tour operators and hotel owners, many of whom expressed interest in including these community experiences in the package tours they run to Copper Canyon.

In Huetosachi, Laura helped the women start a community garden to help grow traditional food for the Kitchen Experience. Daniela led an art workshop for the children to help them reflect on the cultural foods in relation to the community’s agricultural and ceremonial cycles.

In Bacajipare, the CREST team worked with the local guides on various matters including maps and signage for the trails, visitor surveys, the need for further guide training, and their interest in moving forward with their community museum project. Daniela has also met with a museum expert who has agreed to prepare a pre-proposal to present to Bacajipare.

Further, both communities hosted a number of tour groups and fine-tuned several logistical issues to improve the reservation flow and ensure tours are booked in advance, paid for, and expertly run. The surveys that tourists are asked to complete are showing visitors give high marks for the Tourism Experiences. Some have also provided useful suggestions for improvements.

In June, the new bilingual website promoting the Rarámuri Tourism Experiences was officially launched. The site, built by CREST intern Alex Hessinger and his fiance Diane Trif, showcases the “Award-winning adventure and culture tourism developed by two indigenous Mexican communities with the help of sustainable tourism partners.” It gives instructions for booking tours as well as provides a brief history of two Rarámuri communities.

Finally, in June, Laura left the project to take a full-time job with SECTUR. We are grateful for Laura’s skillful and respectful work with the communities over the past two years.  Based on her recommendation, CREST has now hired Perla Silvestre, who has previously worked for CONANP, the national parks agency, on community-based projects. Welcome, Perla!


Analysis of Tourism in Alaska Underway

CREST is in the midst of a short-term project to produce two research papers analyzing tourism issues and trends in Alaska, with the aim of providing guidance for how to strengthen the state’s responsible tourism sector. The project team, led by CREST executive director Martha Honey, includes Darrin Kelly, a tourism and protected areas expert based in Juneau and CREST researchers Gabriela Cicenia and Nicole Whiting, with several tourism and parks experts providing input and review.

Photo (right): Juneau Cruise Ship Piers, Jill Clardy. Creative Commons.

The first CREST White Paper is focused on Southeast Alaska, which is dominated by the Tongass National Forest. This is Alaska’s most popular tourism region with a majority of the 1.2 million annual visitors arriving on cruises. Tourism is the region’s only important economic activity that is growing, while other sectors (fishing, mining, logging) are in decline, and the government is running a deep deficit because of the fall in oil prices and production in Alaska which "fuels" the government budget. The paper, based on desk-based research and in-depth interviews, examines the region’s dependence upon and sometimes contentious relationship with cruise tourism, as well as the stayover nature-based and cultural tourism businesses and attractions which cater to fly-in and drive-in visitors, as well as to cruise passengers. Drawing on lessons learned and case studies from other destinations around the world as well as consumer and industry trends, CREST suggests ways that responsible travel in the Southeast region can be diversified and expanded to generate more revenue and employment for the region.

CREST’s second White Paper focuses on the entire state. Its purpose is to assess how to use responsible tourism to increase access to federal and state parks and other public lands in Alaska. The paper examines the diverse types of state and federal lands in Alaska, which government agencies are involved with their management, how tourism businesses can access and use public lands through the concession system and other means, and what types of visitation and recreation activities currently take place. Through case studies and lessons from elsewhere, the paper will offer recommendations for how responsible tourism can be further developed within protected areas and in surrounding communities to ensure more revenue stays in the state, while protecting both the cultural and natural resources.  

Both studies pay attention to the involvement of Native Alaskans in the tourism sector through native corporations and other means, as well as the challenges and obstacles they face. The papers provide examples of successful and sustainable Native Alaskan businesses that generate income while respecting their culture.

The Edgerton Foundation, a family foundation based in Los Angeles, has commissioned the CREST studies as a tool to help them develop priorities for their future grant making in Alaska. Edgerton has also commissioned a parallel study from the McDowell Group, the leading research and consulting firm in Alaska that specializes on quantitative data collection and analysis. The CREST White Papers, which include qualitative as well as quantitative analysis, focus more directly on responsible travel and on lessons from other destinations. CREST is   scheduled to complete both studies by late July.


CREST Launches New Book and New Project in Cuba

On April 27, the Spanish edition of CREST’s study on lessons learned from 50 years of large-scale cruise tourism in the Caribbean was officially released in Havana, Cuba. At a forum held on the terrace of the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Old Havana, Ediciones Temas, one of Cuba’s leading publishing houses, released the study as an e-book entitled, Por el Mar de las Antillas: 50 años de turismo de cruceros en el Caribe. The e-book is now available here. An English edition is in production and will be published by Routledge Press in late 2018.

The study’s four co-authors, CREST executive director Martha Honey, CREST consultant Jannelle Wilkins, and two Cuban scholars, economist Rafael Betancourt and tourism professor Jose Luis Perello, spoke at the book launching event.  Temas Editor Rafael Hernandez provided opening remarks and Ariel Terrero, Director of the “José Martí” International Journalism Institute in Havana outlined the significance of this study for how Cuba’s burgeoning cruise tourism industry can be developed more sustainably.  The audience included government officials, academics, NGOs, journalists, and tourism professionals.

The study focuses mainly on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of cruise tourism on destinations in the Caribbean. It also contains a chapter on historic cities, with a focus on Barcelona and Venice. Included is an in-depth analysis of the history of cruise tourism in Cuba and recommendations for how the island nation might manage its newly introduced, and rapidly expanding, cruise tourism sector in order to maximize the benefits for destinations.
Research for this book began in September 2016 and involved more than a dozen researchers in various countries. The study was financed with grants from the Ford and Christopher Reynolds foundations.

In addition, CREST, in partnership with Cuban academics from Havana, Holguín, and Pinar del Rio, has launched a new project in Cuba to examine various aspects of small-scale tourism in Cuba, with a focus on household-based businesses (casas particulares or bed and breakfasts and paladares or home restaurants) and rural tourism. This multi-year project will involve field and desk-based studies, conferences, publications, and two study tours to Costa Rica. In Pinar del Rio, CREST is also collaborating with researchers from the Erb Institute at the University of Michigan. This new CREST project is being supported by the Ford, Christopher Reynolds and Flora Family foundations.


“Overtourism: Seeking Solutions" Announced as Theme for World Tourism Day Forum

Barcelona, Venice, Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef. Around the world, popular tourist destinations have reached a tipping point. A growing middle class, improved connectivity, and the desire of people everywhere to see the world means that popular destinations are becoming saturated with visitors. Overcrowding is disrupting daily life, degrading precious natural and historical sites, and impacting the traveler experience. The phenomenon, dubbed “overtourism” has led to civic protests and residents demanding “tourists, go home.”

“This is a wake-up call,” says Taleb Rifai, former secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organization. “The key is to manage the growth sustainably, responsibly and intelligently and use the power of growth to our advantage.”

The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) and The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies (IITS) are co-hosting a 2018 World Tourism Day forum focused on seeking solutions to the growing problem. The day-long event, planned for some 200 attendees, will be held at the Jack Morton Auditorium on The George Washington University campus; it will also be livestreamed.

The forum will feature five moderated panel discussions on overtourism covering:

  1. Historic Cities
  2. National Parks/Protected Areas
  3. World Heritage Sites & Monuments/Protected Cultural Sites
  4. Coastal & Beach Communities
  5. National and Regional Destinations

Presentations and panel discussions by industry experts and tourism professionals will feature both critical challenges and potential solutions that have been implemented. Active audience participation will be a key aspect of the event. A government leader from the city of Barcelona has been invited to deliver the keynote address. The catered luncheon and closing cocktail reception will provide opportunities for additional discussion and networking.

Photo (Above): Hongcun Bridge, China, Jonathan Tourtellot.

This year’s forum builds on the highly successful 2017 World Tourism Day Forum co-hosted by CREST and UN Environment, which showcased the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

CREST and the International Institute of Tourism Studies are actively seeking sponsors for the event. Potential sponsors may included governments, international agencies, tourism or tourism-related businesses and associations, nonprofit organizations, research and academic institutions, and the media. To discuss opportunities for involvement, contact Samantha Bray.


Call for Submissions: The "Case for Responsible Travel 2018"

Each year, CREST releases a popular meta-analysis in collaboration with several respected industry partners called “The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics.” This report provides a seminal snapshot of our industry, compiling information from the latest studies and reports into a digestible format. Consumer, business, and destination trends & best-practices are shared. Check out the 2016 and 2017 versions as examples.

It’s that time of year again, and CREST is beginning to compile the report. “Trends & Statistics” will be released at CREST’s 2018 World Tourism Day Forum on September 27, which we are organizing with The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies. Given the forum theme, we will be including a special write-up in the 2018 Trends & Statistics publication addressing the issues of overtourism and highlighting some ways different destinations and companies are combatting it while still utilizing tourism as a tool for important economic development.

Would your organization or business like to contribute any data, factoids, or quotes about responsible tourism (consumer, business, or destination case) or overtourism, specifically? If there are specific studies or examples you believe we should review, you can also simply forward them to us electronically. We hope to have all research and factoids for consideration by Friday, July 13. For any factoids or quotes, please provide a full citation for attribution and a link to or a PDF copy of the original publication. Questions and submissions can be directed to program associate Kelsey Frenkiel.


Spring Travel Auction Features Record Number of Platinum Sponsors. Get Involved in August!

CREST’s vision statement is to transform the way the world travels. Each quarter, we provide transformative travel opportunities to bidders through our Charitybuzz online responsible travel auctions. These auctions provide critical funding to meet CREST’s annual budget and allow us to get to know inspiring companies all over the world that are investing in their communities and taking care of their environments.

May 15 – 29, the following companies provided packages to our Spring Travel Auction: Assam Bengal Navigation, Bodhi Surf + Yoga*, Casa de Uco Vineyards & Wine Resort, Hacienda Jimenita Wildlife Reserve, Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort*, Hotel El Ganzo*, Hotel Punta Brava, Island Outpost’s GoldenEye*, Kasbah du Toubkal*, Limalimo Lodge, Micato Safaris*, The Pavilions Himalayas*, and Playa Viva. We are tremendously grateful for their support!

*Included on this list are a record SEVEN Platinum Sponsors, which means they exhibit responsible travel best-practices and have committed to supporting CREST for a total of five years.

In exchange for donated travel packages, we share with our audiences the incredible work these companies are doing and information about what makes them unique. Our next auction will be August 7 – 21, and we are working hard to put together an auction full of top-notch trips. Will your company join us? Contact Kelsey Frenkiel for more information by July 24.


Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort Joins CREST Platinum Sponsors

Photo: Courtesy of Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort

CREST is thrilled to welcome Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort, in Belize, as a CREST Platinum Sponsor! Hamanasi has been a strong supporter of CREST for a number of years, and we are immensely grateful for this commitment to supporting our work into the future. Nestled between Belize's rich reefs and lush rainforest, Hamanasi is a boutique eco-beach resort specializing in romance, adventure, and award-winning customer service. Hamanasi seeks to be a responsible corporate citizen by involving and supporting the community, as well as being actively involved in promoting sustainable tourism and environmental protection. From donating school supplies and creating merit-based scholarship opportunities to working with local and international NGOs and helping with disaster relief, Hamanasi is a positive force in the community. Learn more about their work.


Platinum Sponsor Q&A: Kasbah du Toubkal

Morocco's Kasbah du Toubkal, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, has just celebrated its second year of Platinum Sponsorship with CREST. We caught up with the staff of the Kasbah to tell you more about its inspiring story and why it's special.

Tell us the origin story of Kasbah du Toubkal.

Our founder Mike McHugo came to the Imlil Valley in 1978, looking for trekking routes for his adventure holiday company, Hobo Travel (whose first clients traveled around Morocco in a beat-up ten-seater Land Rover – and loved every minute of it! – and this would eventually become Discover Ltd.) One of the first people he met in the village was Omar Ait Bahmed, a young mountain guide and ski instructor. While Mike, his brother Chris, and founding partner of Hobo Travel, Trevor Rowell, were adventuring together in Morocco, they discovered the ruins of the Kasbah, the former summer home of a local chief. Because of its beautiful location atop a mountain, they knew that someone would buy it and convert it into a fancy private house or expensive hotel. Chris thought it would be safer in their hands, so they, along with Omar (now known as Hajj Maurice after his pilgrimage to Mecca) decided to buy it.

Photo: Hajj Maurice, Mike, and Chris in Morocco, Kasbah du Toubkal

How did Discover Ltd and Kasbah du Toubkal become involved with the Berber villages in the valley of Imlil?

Although community associations are rare for Berber villages, in 1999 they formed “The Association of the Valleys of Imlil” and asked Mike McHugo to join the committee. Since then, the association has coordinated several local development projects, including providing an ambulance, reinforcing flood barricades, and tree planting.

What do guests learn about the Berber community during their stay at the hotel?

The introductory walk explains Kasbah du Toubkal’s involvement in the Imlil Valley and how the 5% levy started. This surcharge helps fund a rubbish clearance system, ambulance, Hammam (bathhouse), and the Education For All program, which provides girls from the rural High Atlas region the opportunity for a college education.

What unique experiences does your property offer?

At our property, you can get close to the Berber community while staying in a relaxed, comfortable environment with spectacular views of the majestic High Atlas Mountains, including its highest summit – Jbel Toubkal (4165 m). We also built a unique trekking lodge that can only be accessed by the most intrepid travelers, who are rewarded with an isolated luxury suite and breathtaking views of the Azzaden valley.

Photo: A guest interacts with the Berber community, Kasbah du Toubkal

What does sustainable tourism mean to Kasbah du Toubkal and Discover Ltd?

We set out to produce a hotel that would be of benefit to the local inhabitants as well as the visitor in an environmentally appropriate way. To be “sustainable,” it has to be of benefit to both the locals as well as our guests. We followed the World Tourism Organization’s lead in creating a “Guide to Socially-Responsible Travel in Morocco,” which outlines a philosophy of open-mindedness and respect when encountering the Berber community. It also describes the importance of preserving the Imlil Valley through environmentally-friendly behavior, and mindfulness towards their archaeological and cultural heritage sites.


Welcome to the Team, Rebekah!

CREST is pleased to announce the addition of Rebekah Stewart to our team. Rebekah joins us as the Communications and Outreach Manager, starting mid-July. She comes to CREST from the Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit that provides legal and social services to immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence. In her position at Tahirih, Rebekah oversaw the organization’s policy advocacy and program communications and managed media relations. Prior to joining Tahirih, Rebekah served as the Senior Associate for Growth Strategy and Development in the Americas region at Teach For All, a global education nonprofit. Her experience in communications, outreach, and international affairs has included roles in the nonprofit, private, and public sectors.

Rebekah is a passionate storyteller and advocate for responsible travel, and her perspective has been shaped both by her travels around the world and by her experience growing up in a travel destination on California’s Central Coast. She has also lived and worked in Luanda, Angola, Santiago, Chile, and Geneva, Switzerland. Rebekah holds an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a B.A. from Occidental College. She speaks Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.


A Warm Summer Welcome to Our New Interns

There is no better way to reaffirm the importance of responsible travel and CREST’s work than by contributing to and learning from our student researchers. This summer, three new individuals will be coming on board:

Emma-louise Sargeant: Emma-louise is originally from the UK and just finished her master’s in travel industry management from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She’s also just presented her final paper at the 17th Asia Pacific Forum for Graduate Students Research in Tourism.

Kyle Sedlock: Kyle has just completed his BA in political science with a minor in Spanish from Penn State University. He studied abroad in Chile during college and is fluent in English and Spanish.

Shelby Luzzi: Shelby is currently in the midst of her master of tourism administration with an emphasis in sustainable tourism from The George Washington University. She's currently traveling in Indonesia, taking part in the rigorous MTA consulting practicum.


Latest CARE Initiatives Shining Examples of Destination Stewardship

It’s been a busy spring at CARE for the Cape & Islands! Once again CARE was blessed with beautiful weather and over 50 eager volunteers at the 5th Annual CARE for the Cape and Islands day held in May at Chatham Marconi Maritime Center. Volunteers pitched in with clearing the Antenna Field Trail of four truckloads of debris from the winter storms, gardeners edged, weeded and mulched, and planted native shrubs, and the cleanup crew of CARE workers cleared the area blocking overflow parking. Windows in the museum and classroom buildings now sparkle and fresh paint shines throughout. A highlight of the event, however, was the ten grants awarded at CARE Day to organizations throughout Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket to help preserve and protect environmental and cultural assets of the region.

CARE is also thrilled to have collaborated on the recently published “A Guide to the Best Ponds on Cape Cod AND the Best Ways of Preserving Them” with Susan Baur, author of the Turtle Sisters childrens book series. Each hidden or unusual pond Susan highlights is worth a trip, but each also illustrates a problem that affects other kettle holes.

For each pond described in the Guide there is an explanation of how one aspect of the pond system works followed by suggestions on how visitors can help keep this function running smoothly.  For example, at a pond in Harwich and another in Chatham, Baur focuses on the shoreline plant community.  She explains in detail why it takes a healthy shoreline to have a healthy pond then suggests ways to help. Guides sold directly by CARE will benefit CARE’s work and are available to purchase for $10 plus shipping.

CARE is a proudly fiscally sponsored project of CREST.


CREST Shares Its Experience

  • CREST for Consumers: Responsible Travel Tips Shared at Department of Commerce Event

    Photo: CREST intern Nicole Whiting and Program Associate Kelsey Frenkiel share responsible travel tips at the Department of Commerce Earth Day Fair.

    This April, CREST program associate Kelsey Frenkiel and student researcher Nicole Whiting attended the Department of Commerce’s Earth Day event, where businesses and non-profits were allowed to promote and advertise sustainable goods, services, and practices to 3,500 government employees. Kelsey and Nicole brought along CREST’s Responsible Travel Tips, which includes information on eco-friendly transportation, being culturally sensitive while traveling, and how to give back by contributing to carbon offset projects. Many attendees were interested to know that they were likely already contributing to local community and environmental initiatives by patronizing small, environmentally-friendly businesses and hotels, but that they were still other ways to help. The team also shared clips from our film, Caribbean Green Travel, Your Choice Makes a Difference, to illustrate the positive impact of responsible travel.

  • CREST in Barcelona: Cruise Tourism and Overtourism
    In late May, CREST executive director Martha Honey spent a week in Barcelona, Spain, participating in a series of meetings focused on both "overtourism" in Europe and CREST’s cruise study. Martha attended, along with some 4,000 academics, the annual Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference, where she presented the key findings from CREST’s study of lessons learned from a half century of large-scale cruise tourism.

    She also was invited to attend a small and fascinating one day meeting on “Sustainable Urban Tourism Policies and Strategies,” organized by the city of Barcelona and Tourism Eco Forum, a local NGO. This May 24 policy workshop brought together representatives from major European cities to discuss innovative Europeans policies on sustainable urban tourism. Speakers were asked to address how their cities are developing governance frameworks and policy making instruments to deal with the environmental and social problems caused by urban mass tourism. From the discussion, it seems Western Europe is ahead of many U.S. cities in trying to craft and experiment with concrete solutions. CREST is inviting several participants in the Workshop to attend and speak at its upcoming forum on “Overtourism: Seeking Solutions” taking place September 27 - World Tourism Day - in Washington, D.C. CREST also asked several of the European urban tourism experts to contribute to its planned book on overtourism.

  • Travelers’ Philanthropy Knowledge Shared at Oregon Marine Reserves Summit

    Managing director Samantha Bray shared her knowledge of travelers’ philanthropy at the Oregon Marine Reserves Summit, May 21 & 22. The Summit, hosted by The Nature Conservancy and Travel Oregon, was held in the community of Cannon Beach. Participants included representatives from the tourism industry, governmental agencies, environmental organizations, and community groups, as well as representatives from the five partnering Oregon Marine Reserves. Presentations were made about the state of Oregon’s Marine Reserves and how to effectively work with the tourism industry on conservation and funding issues. One of only a few non-Oregonian participants at the Summit, Samantha provided examples from all over the world of how the tourism industry has provided support for conservation. A presentation was also made by Jill Talladay, director of CARE for the Cape & Islands, who talked about her own experience using travelers’ philanthropy to support environmental conservation on Cape Cod.

  • Ford Foundation Convenes Meeting on Cuba Policy

    Photo: Ford Foundation grantees discuss current U.S.-Cuba policy in New York, David Guggenheim.

    On June 13-14, the Ford Foundation, together with the Christopher Reynolds Foundation, convened a meeting for CREST and other grantees working in Cuba to discuss recent changes in U.S. and Cuban policies and the implications for U.S. foundations and institutions working in Cuba. The two-day meeting also included some two dozen grantees as well as key Cuban academics and civil society organization leaders, U.S. lawyers specializing in U.S.-Cuban relations, and diplomats from both countries.  The meeting was designed to help grantees working in a range of fields including academic exchanges, environmental issues, renewable energy, sustainable tourism, organic agriculture, fisheries, urban transport and development, health, and arts and culture, better understand and follow the recent shifts in procedures. There was a consensus that it is still possible for U.S. organizations and institutions to conduct research and projects in Cuba if they do so in partnership with Cuban entities and if they adhere to governmental regulations.

    In addition, the discussions highlighted that the U.S. administration’s policies and proclamations have caused fear and confusion among U.S. travelers. This is hurting most severely Cuba’s burgeoning tourism industry, with stayover tourism from the U.S.  dropping more than 50 percent in the first half of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. By contract, cruise tourism between the U.S. and Cuba continues, for a range of reasons, to grow. Grantees discussed ways to help clarify to the U.S. public that most travel to Cuba is safe and legal. The group praised Ford and Reynolds for convening this useful and productive meeting.

  • Martha Honey Presents on New Cruise Study at “Best Practices on Sustainable and Responsible Tourism” Panel
    On June 21, CREST executive director Martha Honey presented on a panel with the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD), Grupo Puntacana Fundación, and the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF). Dr. Honey discussed findings from her new co-authored book, Por el Mar de las Antillas: 50 Anos de Turismo de Cruceros en el Caribe(Ediciones Temas, 2018), which traces the history and brings together lessons learned from a half century of Caribbean cruise tourism. The book examines the economic, sociocultural, and environmental impacts of cruise tourism on destinations in the Caribbean and lays out recommendations for how to improve the benefits for the region’s island states.

    Other panelists discussed best practices in sustainable and responsible tourism. Maryanne Culpepper from the DCEFF shared the importance of emerging video technologies for destinations, including VR, while Jake Kheel (Grupo Puntacana Fundación) and Natasha Despotovic (GFDD) shared solutions to sustainability issues from their experiences within hotel and resort management. The panel was hosted by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development offices in Washington, DC.


Industry Announcements

  • Join CREST and Partners on July 13 for Impact Travel Immersion

    We’re excited to be partnering with Impact Travel Alliance for their upcoming conference focused on empowering entrepreneurs and travel professionals, and to build stronger connections with the people and organizations driving innovation in the travel industry.

    Join us in New York City this July 13 for Impact Travel Immersion, a full day, interactive event with content focused on business, innovation, and marketing – with sustainability woven throughout every component of the event. ITA is lining up some all-star presenters and speakers, and attendees will leave empowered to build more impactful, sustainable, and profitable businesses.

    Our community saves 10% when you use the code CREST. Get your tickets here. (Select "Tickets" and then "Enter Promotional Code"). Save the date, invite your friends, and help us celebrate our collective impact!

    See you on July 13!

  • Call for Submissions to the Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards
    Closing date: 30 June 2018
    Skål International is an Affiliate Member of the UNWTO, whose mission is to promote the development of responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism. Following the United Nations declaration of 2002 as the Year of Ecotourism and the Mountains, Skål International launched their Sustainable Tourism Awards in the same year to highlight and acknowledge best practices around the globe. As an international organization of tourism industry leaders, Skål International is a powerful force in the travel and tourism industry to initiate change and encourage the conservation of the environment in order to promote tourism and travel.

    There is no cost for entry. Any organization or company from the public or private sectors, NGOs, government agencies, or educational institutions worldwide are welcome to submit an entry in one of the nine available categories. More information is available here.

  • G Adventures and Planeterra Launch Child Welfare Guidelines in Partnership with Friends-Internationals’ ChildSafe Movement

    Recently, G Adventures and their non-profit arm, Planeterra, launched a new set of Child Welfare Guidelines for the travel industry. These Child Welfare Guidelines aim to educate the tourism industry on how to responsibly interact with children when travelling, including taking pictures respectfully, not disrupting children’s education, and how to give gifts and donations in a manner that doesn’t promote begging. This is an important step for responsible travel, which should always aim to protect and empower the communities with whom travelers come into contact. Read the full guidelines here. Other tour operators have also taken a stance on child protection in the travel industry. Read Intrepid Travel’s interview with Child Safe Tourism here

  • CREST Platinum Sponsor Basecamp Explorer Opens New Safari Camp, Leopard Hill

    Basecamp Explorer opened Leopard Hill this Spring, their newest safari camp located inside Mara Naboisho Conservancy. The Conservancy was formed in a unique partnership between a group of tour operators and the Maasai community, and is said to have the highest density of big cats in Africa. All tents are built on elevated wooden decks, allowing for a 360- degree view of the nearby watering hole and the stunning array of wildlife that gathers. What makes Leopard Hill accommodation truly special is the adjustable motorized roof in the tents, that visitors can slide back to catch a glimpse of the African night sky from the comfort of their “star-bed.”

    Basecamp Explorer recently received a Silver Award in the Best Responsible Cultural Experience category at the African Responsible Tourism Awards held in South Africa. They were also highly commended for Best Reporting on the Global Goals (SDGs). Their commendations are much deserved, as Basecamp Explorer remains an excellent model of Travelers’ Philanthropy, allowing their guests to give back to the Maasai community and local wildlife conservation. Congratulations!


CREST in the News

  • June 14, 2018: "Tourism in the Caribbean." In this episode of The Adaptation Conversation podcast (run by Acclimatise, a UK-based advisory and analytics company providing expertise in climate change adaptation and risk management), CREST managing director Samantha Bray discusses the relationship between climate change, environmental degradation, and tourism. (Read about the four volumes on marine/coastal tourism and climate change, co-edited by Bray and executive director Martha Honey, here.)
  • May 25, 2018: “Oregon Marine Reserves Summit held in Cannon Beach.” CREST managing director Samantha Bray attended and spoke at the Oregon Marine Reserves Summit, which focused on creating partnerships between the tourism industry and marine reserves to promote conservation. She spoke about the most recent travel trends, which involve travelers who are more eco-conscious and willing to pay for sustainable experiences.
  • April 20, 2018: "Green Your Vacation." Samantha Bray discusses ways to put an environmentally-friendly spin on your family trip, positively impacting the earth and your child's attitude towards the planet.

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