Every year on World Tourism Day, we host a forum focused on pressing issues facing the tourism industry. These forums are heavily solutions-oriented, inviting practitioners to discuss the successes and obstacles they have faced in implementing tourism solutions.

Twenty Years of Tourism: Looking Back and Beyond

Founded in 2003, in the wake of the UN International Year of Ecotourism (2002), the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) has worked with communities around the world to implement more responsible tourism policies and practices. The tourism industry and the landscape within which it operates have changed drastically over the past two decades. In honor of our 20th anniversary, we will look at how the tourism industry and landscape have changed, discuss best practices and lessons learned, and apply what we know to our work moving forward.

In discussing how the tourism industry and landscape have changed over the past two decades and where it will be going, we will look at industry trends, policy, research, stakeholder engagement, awareness-building, regulation, and cooperation.

The goal of this year’s World Tourism Day Forum is to understand how the tourism industry and landscape have evolved over the past two decades and how to best utilize lessons learned to create lasting change over the next two.

Martha Honey Legacy in Responsible Travel Award

The Martha Honey Legacy in Responsible Travel Award was first created to honor Dr. Martha Honey on the occasion of her retirement in recognition of her incredible leadership and accomplishments in responsible travel. At that time, the Board and staff of CREST decided to make this an annual award from the CREST Board of Directors to someone in the global tourism industry making a significant difference in pushing the envelope in responsible travel.

This year’s award went to Bruce Poon Tip, CEO and Founder of GAdventures.

Previous Event Details

It isn’t uncommon for tourism policies and plans to be made without community input, but tourism does not exist in a vacuum. Communities feel the consequences of being excluded: from overtourism and climate and biodiversity threats, to cultural heritage loss and widening social inequities. In order to build a more sustainable and responsible future for tourism – for destination communities, businesses, and tourists alike – we need a more holistic approach, one that puts communities at the center of tourism planning and decision-making. Without doing so we risk losing what makes so many destinations unique and worth visiting.

Our goal for this event was to have a research-based discussion with practical examples of how destination stewardship is being implemented around the world. Participants walked away with a better understanding of destination stewardship as a tourism model and the value of using community-centered destination marketing.

Martha Honey Legacy in Responsible Travel Award recipient: Jonathan Tourtellot. He was selected amongst a pool of esteemed candidates but what set him apart was his dogged commitment to destination stewardship throughout his multi-decade career.

In 2021, CREST is partnered with Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency to host our fifth annual World Tourism Day Forum. The virtual event focused on helping key sectors bridge the disconnect between the goals destinations, accommodations, and tour operators are told they must meet when it comes to mitigating the climate crisis, and the action steps needed to take.

CREST’s 2020 meta-analysis, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics, shares key studies on COVID-19 and climate change and the lessons that may be applied from the former to meet the challenges of the latter.

This 2020 World Tourism Day Webinar shared the report’s key findings and brought together experts to discuss consumer, business, and destination trends in the context of recovery.

Distinguished speakers explored the unprecedented opportunity to mitigate two existential threats, climate change and COVID-19, with one coordinated approach, truly making the world a safer, more equitable, and more resilient place for all.

Impact tourism is not about collecting loose change for charities. Rather, it is about integrating business and visitor support for local communities into the core definition of responsible travel. The 2019 World Tourism Day Forum focused on successful travel giving programs for a wide range of businesses and destination types.

Recognizing that doing good does not always mean doing right, the forum also examined the downsides of inappropriately implemented travel giving and voluntourism programs.

The forum also traced the evolution of what was originally referred to as travelers’ philanthropy into Impact Tourism, which today represents a broad array of travel giving programs.

This forum was presented by CREST and Organization of American States.

We define overtourism as tourism that has moved beyond the limits of acceptable change in a destination due to quantity of visitors, resulting in degradation of the environment and infrastructure, diminished travel experience, wear and tear on built heritage, and/or negative impacts on residents.

Around the world, popular tourist destinations have reached a tipping point. A growing middle class, improved connectivity, and the desire of people to see the world means that popular destinations are becoming over-saturated. The phenomenon called ‘overtourism’ has led to civic protests and residents demanding that ‘tourists go home.’

This 2018 World Tourism Day Forum was designed to reflect on the root causes of overtourism, but more importantly, to share viable solutions from thought leaders working on the front lines. This included public sector destination managers and private sector tourism providers. Panel discussions focused on the various types of destinations confronting overtourism: historic cities, national parks, and protected areas, World Heritage Sites, coastal and beach communities, and national and regional destinations.

This forum was presented by CREST and the George Washington Institute for International Tourism Studies.

The CREST/UN Environment forum was designed to showcase the importance of the UN’s declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This invitation-only, day-long event took place on World Tourism Day, September 27, 2017, at the UN Foundation in Washington, DC.

The event featured panels covering the five key areas identified by the UNWTO for this international year. Each one-hour panel was moderated by a well-known journalist and included two presenters giving exemplary and inspiring case studies. In their 8-10 minute talks, presenters showed short videos of their work and reflected on both their successes and challenges. Case studies were drawn from North America, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The journalist/moderator for each panel ensured ample time for audience discussion after each set of presentations.