CREST Newsletter | October - December 2019

From the Executive Director

As we reflect on 2019, we at CREST are moved and inspired by the connections we’ve made through travel. On behalf of the whole team, I’d like to thank you for your vital support of our mission over the past year, and I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in 2020. CREST’s final newsletter of 2019 discusses key issues facing the tourism industry and shares updates on our work to protect our world’s special places and help local communities thrive.

As a nonprofit, CREST’s programming is made possible by people like you. We hope you will select CREST as a worthy organization to support as this year comes to a close. Make your tax-deductible donation today to invest in our work to address tourism in a changing climate and develop sustainable solutions for tourism destinations, businesses, and travelers. In this moment of crisis for our planet and its people, responsible travel is more important than ever. Wishing you a happy holiday season and all the best in the new year.

Yours in responsible travel,


Gregory Miller, Ph.D.
Executive Director


Impact Tourism: New CREST Resources Share Best Practices for Giving Time, Talent, & Treasure

Following our third annual World Tourism Day Forum in Washington, DC, CREST released our latest report, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2019. This landmark study includes a special focus on impact tourism, providing cutting-edge examples of how tourism businesses, travelers, and organizations are making strategic contributions of time, talent, and treasure to social and environmental projects in destinations. Prepared in collaboration with more than 30 leading tourism organizations and institutions, Trends & Statistics 2019 finds that when done responsibly, impact tourism is a vital tool for fostering community development and promoting conservation.

CREST has also released the video footage of our 2019 World Tourism Day Forum, “Impact Tourism: Giving Time, Talent, & Treasure. Visit WorldTourismDayForum.com to view the event’s insightful and thought-provoking presentations.

Want to help continue the conversation on how the tourism industry can responsibly give back to the places we love? In 2020, CREST looks forward to releasing an Impact Tourism Handbook, featuring how-to case studies from many of the World Tourism Day Forum speakers, along with other best-practice leaders. To discuss opportunities to support this project, contact Samantha Bray.


Project Spotlight: Developing Sustainable Indigenous Tourism in Chihuahua, Mexico

In Chihuahua, Mexico, the CREST team has been working with two indigenous communities located near the rim of the spectacular Copper Canyon to offer authentic indigenous tourism experiences. Designed to help the communities benefit economically from tourism and preserve their land and culture, this unique project offers tourists the opportunity to participate in women-run cooking and handicraft demonstrations and take a variety of hiking and storytelling tours in the Canyon led by licensed guides.

In November, CREST Program Manager Ellen Rugh traveled to Chihuahua to visit the “Rarámuri Experiences” project and meet with local stakeholders, and we recently welcomed José Gardea to our project team as a Chihuahua-based Field Consultant. Visit ExperienciasRaramuri.com to learn about the cooking, weaving, and guided hiking experiences and get to know the communities of Bacajipare and Huetosachi.


Proposed Port in the Cayman Islands Presents Threat to Coral Reefs

CREST is concerned about a looming cruise and cargo port development in the Cayman Islands and its potential ecological impacts. The proposed project would require the dredging of coral reefs in order to accommodate much larger next generation ships that cruise lines say won’t use tenders to ferry passengers ashore.

The plans involve Verdant Isle, a consortium led by Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corporation, designing, building, and maintaining the proposed $250 million facility. In return for upgrading the port, Verdant Isle will receive part of the tax that tourists pay to visit the Cayman Islands for 25 years. As the BBC details, the berthing project is expected to destroy at least 10 acres of coral reef – a vital resource that local tourism activities rely on.
The consortium, along with local government officials, say that the project will increase cruise passenger spending while minimizing environmental risk. However, cruise passengers made up nearly 81% of annual tourists on the islands last year, but just 22% of tourism revenue. The majority of tourism revenue came from overnight passengers, who often come to admire the pristine reefs and seascape of the island.

Caymanians will vote on the proposal in a referendum expected in early 2020. Learn more from the The Caribbean Council, BBC, and Travel Weekly.


Holiday Auction Supports Responsible Travel Initiatives

CREST’s annual Holiday Travel Auction was held December 3 – 17, featuring packages from responsible travel leaders Alaska Wildland Adventures,* Country Walkers,* Diamond M Ranch Resort,* Hotel El Ganzo,* Green Roof Inn,* Isle of Reefs Tours,* Mahogany Springs,* Belmond Cap Juluca, Coyaba Beach Resort, Hilton, Belmond La Samanna, Lindblad Expeditions, Nayara Resorts, Overseas Adventure Travel, Viceroy Riviera Maya, and Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.

Thank you to these generous and motivating companies who work daily to ensure travel is a force for good. Did you miss the Holiday Travel Auction but want to find the perfect gift from the one you love? Mark your calendar for CREST’s Valentine’s Day Travel Auction, January 28 – February 11, 2020.

*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.


Examining the Sustainability of Backpacking

CREST Program & Research Intern Cassie McCabe spent years traveling around the world before pursuing her Master’s degree from the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability. In this essay, Cassie examines the sustainability of backpacking and shares her own experiences as a backpacker in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.


CARE for the Cape and Islands Presents its 2019 Stewardship Awards

A fiscally sponsored project of CREST, CARE for the Cape and Islands presented its annual Stewardship Award during its third Summit, “CARE about a Clean Cape & Islands: Protecting Our Environment from Plastic Pollution and Litter,” held at the Cape & Islands Realtors Association Conference Center. The annual Stewardship Award is presented to an organization that has adopted day-to-day practices to preserve and enhance the natural environment of Cape Cod and the Islands.

This year’s award was presented to a group of Cape Abilities clients, affectionately dubbed the “Green Team” and mentor, David Baron. Cape Abilities serves individuals with disabilities to empower them to achieve meaningful and valued roles in society. The Green Team worked with CARE on a number of projects that included tree planting, beach cleanups, promoting Take Care Cape Cod, planting flowers at Yarmouth Town Hall, and educating restaurants and the public about Skip the Straw and the dangers of single-use plastic. They are also encouraging a reduction of single-use plastic within their organization.

CARE also announced Plastic Free MV as the recipient of the annual Youth Stewardship Award for their efforts to reduce single-use plastic in their community. Plastic Free MV is a group of fifth and sixth graders, led by teacher Annemarie Ralph, who were instrumental in the passage of a by-law in three towns on Martha’s Vineyard this past spring to ban the sale of water and soda in single-use plastic bottles.


Support CREST During Your Stay at the Inn at Horn Point

The Inn at Horn Point in Annapolis, Maryland, is a Maryland Green Registry 2019 Leadership Award Winner. Located downtown and one block from Restaurant Row, the INN practices a variety of methods to reduce their impact on the environment, including composting, electric vehicle charging stations, and specialized rainwater landscaping.

The Inn at Horn Point is now offering the opportunity to support CREST during your stay in Annapolis. To confirm your reservation, call (410) 268-1126 and mention the offer code CREST2019, and 15% of your stay's proceeds will support CREST’s work to transform the way the world travels.


Two Alaskan Companies Join CREST as Platinum Sponsors

Alaska Wildland Adventures and Diamond M Ranch Resorts are the newest inductees into CREST’s Platinum Sponsor program. Get to know these inspiring companies that are committed to responsible travel within their own operations and through their support of CREST:

  • Alaska Wildland Adventures: Exclusively Alaska for over 40 years, Alaska Wildland Adventures (AWA) features a wide range of ways to experience the Last Frontier. AWA’s three wilderness lodges – Kenai Riverside Lodge, Kenai Backcountry Lodge, and Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge – are the cornerstone of AWA's all-inclusive Adventures, Lodge, and Fishing packages. AWA is well recognized for operating some of the most highly regarded small group nature tours in a style which honors responsible travel principles. AWA holds fast to its core principle that Alaska is best experienced personally and respectfully, in a style that recognizes the true value of the wilderness.

  • Diamond M Ranch Resort:  Diamond M Ranch Resort is located in the heart of the Kenai Peninsula. Our goal is to help each guest have the Alaska experience of their dreams. Whether you want spacious RV sites with full hook-ups, gorgeous historical suites with a view, or a tent space with access to all the resort amenities, we have what you need. Diamond M Ranch Resort was awarded “Outstanding Business in Tourism” for our commitment to excellence and active involvement in the local community. With access to Fishing, Hiking, Bear Viewing, and more, we are the outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Our central location makes us the perfect home base for day trips to Seward, Homer, and beyond.


CREST Shares Our Experience

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

  • Washington University in St. Louis: Engaging with the next generation of responsible tourism advocates is a highlight of CREST’s work. In December, CREST managing director Samantha Bray was a guest speaker for Washington University in St. Louis’ Tourism and Sustainability class. Topics discussed were challenges and solutions of overtourism and the positive contributions of impact tourism to community projects.

  • Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, VA: In November, CREST Program Manager Ellen Rugh spoke at Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, Virginia about the rising role of responsible tourism, how to make sustainable decisions while traveling, and CREST’s work protecting the cultural resources and biodiversity of destinations. The presentation was sponsored by the Loudoun County Public Library.

  • The East-West Center in Washington, DC: CREST Executive Director Gregory Miller was invited by the East-West Center in Washington, DC to speak to a group of tourism leaders from several small Pacific Island nations about responsible tourism and its important role in developing sustainable solutions to the impacts of climate change. Included in the group were participants from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and other countries deeply impacted by the climate crisis.

  • Dalhousie University’s “Cuba at 60” Conference: CREST is committed to addressing tourism in a changing climate in Cuba and across the Caribbean. In November, CREST Director of Communications Rebekah Stewart spoke on a panel at Dalhousie University’s “Cuban Revolution at 60” conference about climate change and Cuba’s ecological future. Joining Rebekah on the panel were experts from the Environmental Defense Fund, the Vermont Caribbean Institute, and Dalhousie University.

  • Georgetown University: CREST’s Rebekah Stewart was a guest speaker for a graduate course on Global Hospitality Leadership at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies in October. Rebekah’s presentation focused on emerging solutions to overtourism, impact tourism as a source of development assistance, and responsible travel trends.


CREST in the News

CREST has engaged in robust media outreach throughout 2019, sharing our expertise on topics including tourism and climate change, overtourism, U.S. travel to Cuba, impact tourism, and how to be a responsible traveler. Check out these media highlights from the last three months:


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