Conserving biodiversity and cultural heritage has been a staple of CREST’s work since our founding in 2003. The below resources cover a selection of our work in this area, designed to draw attention to key issues, equip tourism practitioners with data and information they need to make sound decisions, and lead tourists down a responsible path.

Crisis Response & Recovery: Nature-Based Tourism, Biodiversity, and Livelihoods
In many parts of the world, the COVID-19 crisis has led to increased habitat encroachment, poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and unregulated harvesting, placing an increased risk for zoonotic disease transmission. At the same time, there are ongoing concerns of dramatic increases in COVID-19 induced tourism visitation and waste production in some locales, which also impact public health and visitor management. This symposium, co-sponsored by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group), Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Arizona State University (ASU) School of Community Resources and Development, located in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, brings together global experts to address some of these challenges and provide examples of solution-oriented outcomes, in the wake of IUCN’s World Conservation Congress 2021.

Turismo de Pequeña Escala: Una Mirada desde Cuba y Costa Rica
We released this Spanish-language eBook on small-scale tourism in 2020 to help support the recovery of this vital sector. This publication builds on our work in Cuba, where we sponsored two sustainable tourism workshops in 2019. The information presented in both workshops inspired us 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 into an easily-understandable publication.

Protecting Our Marine Treasures: Sustainable Finance Options for U.S. Marine Protected Areas
In 2017, the Marine Protected Areas’ Federal Advisory Committee (MPA/FAC) completed its report Protecting Our Marine Treasures: Sustainable Finance Options for U.S. Marine Protected Areas. The MPA/FAC advises NOAA and the Department of the Interior on ways to strengthen the nation’s system of MPAs. CREST’s Martha Honey served as the Vice-Chair of the 7-person sub-committee that produced this report.

Rock-Hewn Churches Route Development in Tigrai, Ethiopia
After working with the Tigrai Culture & Tourism Bureau (TCTB) and Mekelle University, CREST developed a high-quality, English-language, route guide and map for the spectacular Wukro-Ghera Rock-Hewn Churches and other cultural attractions in Tigrai province, Ethiopia. This consultancy was part of the European Development Fund’s project, “Preserving and Promoting Tigrai’s Cultural Heritage for Development,” which aims to promote Tigrai’s rich cultural heritage to the international market, in order to help increase jobs and local livelihoods. CREST also provided recommendations for continued responsible tourism development that will help to preserve and protect the beautiful culture and environment while generating income and cross-cultural understanding.

Market Analysis of Bird-Based Tourism: A Focus on the U.S. Market to Latin American and the Caribbean
This 2015 CREST study was commissioned by the National Audubon Society and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF). It analyzes bird-based tourism market statistics and presents the economic value of bird tourism in four countries: Belize, Guatemala, The Bahamas, and Paraguay. The study, which is part of a large, longer term regional ecotourism project financed by the MIF, is designed to strengthen bird-based tourism “as a conservation and sustainable development tool.” The study measures effectiveness by quantifying arrivals and actual or potential expenditures, with a focus on the U.S. as the supply market.

Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia
Released in January 2014, this study examines the economic impacts of two outdoor recreational activities in the magnificent Great Bear Rainforest in coastal British Columbia: bear hunting and bear viewing. It is the first to compare the economic value of these two sectors and comes in the midst of public controversy over trophy bear hunting. The study was conducted by CREST researchers at Stanford University and in Washington, DC, together with two BC-based experts. The nine-month study finds that bear viewing tourism generates 12 times more in visitor spending than trophy bear hunting. First Nation peoples living in Canada’s magnificent Great Bear Rainforest have called for a ban on bear hunting, while the British Columbia government continues to issue hunting licenses. An article based on the study was published in the Journal of Ecotourism.    

The Goose with the Golden Eggs: Tourism on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast (2013)
This educational documentary examines the impacts of large-scale resort and vacation home developments along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, as well as cruise ship arrivals in the port city of Puntarenas. Through interviews with community members, government and park officials, tourism guides and hoteliers, activists and experts, the film portrays the challenges coastal communities are facing over water, beach access, land ownership, protection of mangroves, and other issues.

We have made all documentaries available for free. Consider making a donation here.

Balancing Sustainable Tourism & Commercial Fishing in a Marine Protected Area, Turneffe Atoll, Belize
In 2013, CREST released Balancing Sustainable Tourism & Commercial Fishing in a Marine Protected Area, Turneffe Atoll, Belize. Based on six months of research, this report examines key issues facing the new 325,000 acre Marine Reserve and the Reserve’s two main economic sectors: commercial fishing and tourism. The purpose of the study was to analyze potential synergies between the sectors and to determine pathways to success and sustainability for both.

Agrigento: 2020 Vision – Implementing a Sustainable Tourism Action Plan
In 2012, CREST released ‘Agrigento: 2020 Vision,’ a Sustainable Tourism Action Plan developed for Agrigento, Sicily, Italy. The Action Plan identifies tourism-related investments and employment opportunities within an acceptable social and environmental safeguards framework. The plan focuses on the conservation of the cultural, historic and natural attributes of the city and its immediate surroundings while ensuring the socio-economic benefits of its local residents.

The Contribution of Animal Welfare and Sustainable Tourism to Sustainable Development
In 2012, CREST and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (now known as World Animal Protection), researched and produced The Contribution of Animal Welfare and Sustainable Tourism to Sustainable Development, a handbook of case studies drawn from an animal welfare conference in Costa Rica. The publication is a part of a greater toolkit for communities to integrate animal welfare strategically into sustainable development.

The Importance of Ecotourism as a Conservation and Development Tool in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
This 70-page 2011 study, based on field interviews and research, demonstrates the positive economic contributions of ecotourism in the Osa Peninsula, as well as its potential, if better organized, to generate even more social, economic, and environmental benefits for local communities.

Ecotourism and Conservation in the Americas (CABI, 2008)
Edited by CREST Co-Founder and past Co-Director Dr. William Durham of Stanford University and Dr. Amanda Stronza of Texas A&M University, Ecotourism and Conservation in the Americas uses detailed case studies and regional overviews to present the views and experiences of scholars, practitioners, tour operators, and policymakers involved in ecotourism programs in the U.S. and Latin America. The pros and cons of ecotourism for communities and ecosystems are explored, with particular attention paid to the ability of ecotourism to support sustainable development and conservation. The synthesis is inter-disciplinary, cross-cultural, and multi-scale and presents ecotourism as it is currently being practiced.