Prompted by shifts in U.S. policy toward Cuba - including the establishment of regulations tightening travel restrictions in November 2017 - CREST and roughly two dozen other U.S. tour operators and NGOs formed a Cuba advocacy coalition. Its purpose is to assess the impacts the Trump administration's actions are having on U.S. tour operators and universities, to publicize the benefits of people-to-people travel to Cuba for both U.S. travelers and Cuban hosts, and to make the case for normalizing U.S. travel and educational exchanges with Cuba.
CREST's sustainable tourism work in Cuba has developed steadily since 2016, with support from the Ford and Reynolds Foundations. As one piece of this work, CREST has undertaken a study of lessons learned about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of cruise tourism elsewhere in the Caribbean to help with Cuba's decision making as it enters the cruise market. CREST is also helping to organize two sustainable tourism workshops in Cuba that will take place during the first half of 2019.
One of CREST's largest projects is in Oman's South Al Sharquiyah Governorate, a region rich in history, culture, and scenic beauty. CREST, in partnership with three other firms, is working to develop the Oman Ministry of Tourism's sustainable tourism master plan for South Al Sharquiyah. Oman is rapidly becoming an international tourism destination, and this CREST project will provide a comprehensive blueprint for developing sustainable tourism in one of the most naturally diverse regions of the country.
In 2018, CREST and The George Washington University's International Institute of Tourism Studies partnered to host a World Tourism Day Forum focused on finding solutions to the global problem of overtourism. Outcomes of this highly successful event included a new CREST definition of "overtourism" and a book on overtourism solutions, to be organized and edited by CREST for release by Island Press in 2019.
In Chihuahua, CREST is working with local partners on a project funded by the Christensen Foundation that is designed to protect bio-cultural diversity in the Sierra Tarahumara region around Creel and the Copper Canyon. Thriving authentic indigenous tourism experiences will increase revenue and jobs and offer an incentive to the Rarámuri people to preserve their lands, wildlife, and customs. To learn more about this project, visit the Rarámuri Tourism Experiences website.
In April 2017, CREST released two volumes entitled Coastal Tourism, Sustainability, and Climate Change in the Caribbean. Volume I is focused on Hotels and Beaches, and Volume II on Supporting Activities: Golf, Sustainable Food Sourcing, and AIrlines & Airports. The volumes contain essays and case studies by 33 different experts that look at how various tourism sectors both contribute to and are impacted by climate change. The twin volumes also highlight innovative tourism businesses that are providing solutions to addressing climate change. Two additional companion volumes on marine tourism will be published shortly. Image courtesy of CARIBSAVE.
Impact tourism, previously called travelers' philanthropy, is one of CREST's long-running programs. On September 27, 2019, CREST will host a World Tourism Day Forum in Washington, DC focused on this important topic. The event will focus on successful travel giving programs for a wide range of business and destination types, sharing best practices and inspiring stories of impact. Recognizing that “doing good” does not always mean “doing right,” the forum will also examine the downsides of inappropriately implemented travel giving and voluntourism programs, examining lessons learned through the years.