CREST Newsletter | April - July 2020

From the Executive Director

Over the last few weeks and months, the travel industry has been engaging in critical conversations about the need to create more diverse and inclusive spaces as we look to the future of tourism. At the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), we believe that leadership begins by looking within, and our team has been engaging in important discussions about how we work as an organization. Together with a diversity, equity, and inclusion firm, we have developed a nine-month Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan focused on transforming our policies, practices, and behaviors.

As part of this plan, we have committed to:

  • Receiving training that focuses on obtaining a better understanding of unconscious biases, inclusion and belonging, and our role in the industry

  • Evaluating our hiring, recruitment, and onboarding practices

  • Modifying messaging in newsletters and on our website to ensure language and images are inclusive

  • Reviewing practices around our programmatic work, and conducting a five-year audit of our past conference speakers

  • Developing an organizational Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy to set a foundation for how we want to move forward as an organization

  • Embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, conducting a series of stakeholder discussions and setting indicators to hold ourselves accountable

As an organization, we have a lot of work to do in the coming months, and we are grateful to you for supporting us and helping to hold us accountable as we go through this transformative process.

CREST’s Summer Newsletter shares a range of updates on our work and discusses new initiatives focused on impact tourism and rebuilding the tourism industry responsibly. We look forward to continuing to partner with you on the journey to create a more sustainable and equitable future for tourism, and we hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy this summer.

Yours in responsible travel,


Gregory Miller, Ph.D.
Executive Director


New Impact Tourism Handbook Released


CREST’s new Impact Tourism Handbook is here! This free, digital publication shares innovative insights and practical advice from businesses, NGOs, and destinations that are making strategic contributions of time, talent, and treasure to local environmental and social projects. As an update to CREST's 2011 Traveler's Philanthropy Handbook, our 2020 Impact Tourism Handbook takes a deeper look at the thoughtful and innovative ways that impact tourism is materializing around the world.

We hope this resource will encourage destination managers, business and nonprofit representatives, and travelers to consider how they may better leverage partnerships and resources to make a positive difference. You can read the handbook’s five overview essays and 22 case studies here.

We are infinitely grateful to our sponsors Elevate Destinations, Hilton, Holbrook Travel, and Overseas Adventure Travel for making this project possible.


CREST Joins Global Tourism Organizations in Forming the Future of Tourism Coalition

Decades of unfettered growth in travel have put the world’s treasured places at risk - environmentally, culturally, socially, and financially. Now, as tourism recovers, CREST has joined the Destination Stewardship Center, Green Destinations, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares, and The Travel Foundation, with the guidance of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), to form the Future of Tourism Coalition.

Together, we are calling upon governments, travel companies, and other stakeholders to support their commitment to sustainable tourism recovery by signing on to our 13 Guiding Principles. These Guiding Principles put local communities and the precious cultures and environments that sustain them at the center of tourism's new future. Learn more and add your voice at FutureofTourism.org.


Spanish-Language Publication on Small-Scale Tourism

In April, CREST released a Spanish-language resource on small-scale tourism to help support the recovery of this vital sector. This CREST publication builds on our work in Cuba, where we sponsored two sustainable tourism workshops in 2019. The information presented in both workshops inspired CREST to compile a collection of articles as a foundational resource to share the ideas that emerged in those spaces, converting technical information and academic research in an easily-understandable publication.


CREST's Summer Travel Auction is Live

CREST’s Summer Travel Auction is live now through August 12 at charitybuzz.com/CREST! Our Summer Travel Auction provides the opportunity to plan a future trip with a responsible company working to make their community a better place to live and visit. Not only will you get an incredible and sustainable experience, but the proceeds from the auction will support our Responsible Recovery Fund, focused on addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.

The auction features packages from responsible travel leaders Adrift Hotel & Spa; Basecamp Explorer;* Beekman Arms & Delamater Inn; CGH Earth;* Ecoventura; Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa, A Kind Traveler Hotel; Grand Hotel; Holbrook Travel; Hotel El Ganzo;* Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country; Itz’ana Resort;* Ka’ana Resort;* Legacy Vacation Resorts; Lindblad Expeditions; Market Street Restaurant; Montfair Resort Farm;* Mirbeau Inn & Spa; Muy’Ono Resorts;* Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome; The Pavilions Himalayas;* Rainforest Expeditions; Rhinebeck Department Store; Rhinebeck Farmers Market; and Winter Sun & Summer Moon. We are so grateful to our auction donors for their support of our work to transform the way the world travels.

*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 and Islands Launches a Compostable Food Serviceware Buying Guide

CARE for the Cape and Islands, a fiscally sponsored program of CREST, has launched a new “Compostable Food Serviceware Buying Guide,” created in collaboration with the Wellfleet Recycling Committee and Woods Hole Sea Grant. The guide aims to provide restaurants and other food service businesses with alternatives to plastic take-out containers and serviceware, like cups, plates, bowls, and utensils that have seen an increase due to COVID-19.

“We’re really pleased to make this new guide available,” said Jill Talladay, director of CARE. “Providing businesses and citizens more environmentally friendly options is an important part of our mission to preserve and protect the beauty of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.”

“Reusable serviceware is the most sustainable option when serving food but when that’s not possible, we wanted to encourage businesses to use non-plastic disposable food serviceware products that are compostable,” said Christine Shreves, a member of the Wellfleet Recycling Committee and one of guide’s primary creators.

The guide grew out of an on-going series of summits that CARE hosted, along with the Center for Coastal Studies and Cape Cod Anti-Litter Coalition, aimed at decreasing pollution, particularly plastic, in our environment. It is available for free download here


New Destination Stewardship Report From the Destination Stewardship Center and the GSTC

The Destination Stewardship Center, a fiscally sponsored program of CREST, has partnered with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to launch the inaugural issue of the Destination Stewardship Report. The goal of this quarterly newsletter is to provide information and insights useful to anyone whose work or interests involve destination stewardship. It’s an all-volunteer experiment, so its success will depend on your interest, feedback, and content contributions. You can read the email version here, and contact the Destination Stewardship Center for more information and to get involved.


Ecuadorian Responsible Travel Leader Becomes CREST Platinum Sponsor

CREST is thrilled to welcome Las Terrazas de Dana Boutique Lodge & Spa to our network of elite Platinum Sponsors, committed to supporting CREST through our travel auctions for a period of five-years. Las Terrazas de Dana is located in the Mindo Cloud Forest, at the heart of the Choco Andino de Pichincha Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador.

With only six exclusive bungalows in lush gardens and a view of Mindo Valley, Las Terrazas de Dana’s goal is to provide guests the best possible experience with personalized service. The Mindo Cloud Forest offers unique and pristine natural beauty, and visitors can enjoy one of the best birding hot spots in the world. Las Terrazas de Dana’s tour operation also organizes Galapagos Cruises, Amazon Forest tours, and all Ecuador tours. CEO David Brito says “We are always focused on maintaining the highest standards of eco-friendly and sustainable tourism, while we support the local community of Mindo. You can rest easy knowing your vacation has left as small of a footprint as possible."

Considering a trip to Ecuador? Learn about Las Terrazas de Dana’s extensive and exemplary COVID-19 cleanliness and safety protocol here.


Save the Date for a CREST Webinar on September 29

On September 29, 2020, CREST will host a webinar in honor of World Tourism Day that will share the findings of our forthcoming report, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2020, and feature expert commentary on the business, destination, and consumer cases for responsible travel in the era of COVID-19 and climate change. Please mark your calendars and stay tuned for registration details!


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:

  • Webinar on How and Why to Decarbonize the Travel Industry: This week, Executive Director Gregory Miller joined representatives from Amnesty International, The Travel Foundation, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Atlantean BioSphere Program, and Intrepid Travel on a panel to share perspectives and best practices for decarbonization of the travel industry.
  • George Washington University Webinar: In July, Managing Director Samantha Bray was a panelist on the webinar “Paving the Way Toward a Resilient Tourism Industry: Responsible Tourism for COVID Recovery” offered by The George Washington University Master of Tourism Administration program and International Institute of Tourism Studies. Listen in to the recording of this insightful conversation between these prominent Master of Tourism Administration alumnae.
  • Facebook Live Interview With Turismo del futuro: In June, Program Manager Ellen Rugh participated in a Spanish-language Facebook Live interview hosted by the Mexico-based “Turismo del futuro,” where she shared information about the Future of Tourism Coalition and the potential synergies between the separate international  and national coalitions.
  • The New Travel Conference: In June, Executive Director Gregory Miller participated on a panel at The New Travel virtual conference entitled “We Can’t Forget Sustainability.” Moderated by Julia Cosgrove of AFAR Media, panelists discussed the importance of rebuilding responsibly. You can find the panel video here.
  • 2040 Sustainable Travel Q&A: In June, CREST Board of Directors member Denaye Hinds joined documentary filmmaker Damon Gameau and Darrell Wade of Intrepid Travel in a Q&A that considered how the travel industry is adapting to become more sustainable. Moderated by Ashley Renne, the Q&A followed a livestream of Gameau’s newly released film, 2040. Watch the discussion here.
  • Crossing Boundaries Livestream: In May, Managing Director Samantha Bray joined Mejdi Tours on their Crossing Boundaries livestream show for a conversation about the future of sustainable tourism. Watch the episode here.
  • Travindy Fest: In May, Program Manager Ellen Rugh participated in Travindy Fest, a day-long, live event on Instagram. During her interview, Ellen discussed CREST’s research project examining the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change on the tourism sectors in Cuba and Costa Rica.
  • Endicott College Presentation: In April, Managing Director Samantha Bray spoke to Academic Affiliate Dr. Todd Comen’s sustainable tourism class at Endicott College. Topics covered included practical application of community-based tourism, impact tourism, and overtourism, and opportunities to make the industry more responsible during and coming out of COVID-19.
  • Holbrook Travel Webinar: On Earth Day, Executive Director Gregory Miller was a panelist on a webinar hosted by Holbrook Travel that explored what possibilities might be open to us in the post-COVID-19-world. CREST Board of Directors member Andrea Holbrook was the moderator of this thought-provoking discussion.
  • Purdue University Presentations: In April, Program Manager Kelsey Frenkiel spoke to a class in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Purdue University, where Academic Affiliate Dr. Jonathan Day teaches graduate students. Kelsey talked about how we are working with the World Wildlife Fund to improve food waste practices in the tourism industry in the Caribbean, and how this relates to climate change as a whole. Also in April, CREST’s Gregory Miller, Samantha Bray, and Ellen Rugh shared an introduction to our current project work during a virtual class seminar for students of Purdue University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

CREST in the News

CREST's recent media outreach has focused on the need to create a sustainable future for tourism. Check out these media highlights:

  • July 8, 2020: "Essential Guide to Responsible & Ethical Travel." CREST Executive Director Gregory Miller is quoted in this piece from Verge Magazine about the importance of approaching sustainable travel holistically.
  • June 18, 2020: "The End of Tourism?" CREST Board of Directors member Melissa Biggs Bradley discusses the impact of COVID-19 on comunities that rely on tourism.
  • June 16, 2020: "Future of Tourism Coalition Formed." This Travel Weekly article covers the launch of the Future of Tourism Coalition, which includes CREST, the Destination Stewardship Center, Green Destinations, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares, and The Travel Foundation, with the guidance of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). The Coalition's mission has also been covered by AFAR, TravelPulse, TTG Media, Travel Weekly UK, TravelAge West, Travindy, and more.
  • June 1, 2020: "As Hotels Reopen, Heightened Cleanliness Standards Are Top of Mind." CREST Executive Director Gregory Miller is quoted in this Departures Magazine article about hotels re-opening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • May 13, 2020: "How the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Change the Way We Travel." We all have the opportunity to make more responsible choices when travel returns. This thought-provoking article from Architectural Digest┬áconsiders how tourism will change and features insights from CREST Executive Director Gregory Miller and Board Member Melissa Biggs Bradley.
  • May 6, 2020: "The Future of Travel." This interactive piece from The New York Times answers 14 important questions about how the travel industry will change post-COVID-19 and shares insights from industry experts, including CREST Executive Director Gregory Miller.
  • April 20, 2020: "Even Though We Aren't Traveling, We Can Still Support Sustainble Tourism." Wondering what you can do to support sustainable tourism? In this op-ed published by AFAR, CREST Executive Director Gregory Miller shares tangible ways we can all prepare ourselves to make a positive difference on future trips.

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