Mission StatementTo promote responsible tourism policies and practices globally so that local communities may thrive and steward their cultural resources and biodiversity.
Vision StatementTo transform the way the world travels.
Date of Establishment2003
HQ Address1225 Eye Street NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
Organization Size2 full-time staff; 11 Board of Directors
Fundraising StatusActively Fundraising
Press Inquirieswespinosa@responsibletravel.org

Organization History

The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is a global nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC dedicated to increasing the positive global impact of responsible tourism. CREST provides evidence-based research and analysis to governments, policymakers, tourism businesses, nonprofit organizations, and international agencies to solve the most pressing problems confronting tourism: responding to the climate crisis, conserving biodiversity and cultural heritage, addressing overtourism, and narrowing the wealth gap.

Key Definitions

A self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public, by being conscious of the kind of impact it is having on all aspects of society including economic, social, and environmental. (CREST Impact Tourism Handbook, 2020)

A process by which local communities, governmental agencies, NGOs, and the tourism industry take a multi-stakeholder approach to maintaining the cultural, environmental, economic, and aesthetic integrity of their country, region, or town. (Global Sustainable Tourism Council)

Tourism that makes strategic contributions of time, talent, and treasure to social and environmental projects in destinations. This includes tourism businesses, travelers, and organizations in partnerships with host communities. 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. (CREST Impact Tourism Handbook, 2020)

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. (The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2018)

At CREST, we believe that regenerative travel refers to tourism that not only ‘does no harm,’ but protects and enhances the conditions and systems at the destination while benefiting both residents and travelers. That said, we do not believe this term is a replacement for sustainable tourism.

CREST uses the UN definition of sustainable tourism: “Tourism that leads to the management of all resources in a manner that economic, social and aesthetic needs are fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biodiversity, and life support systems.”

True sustainability is not about maintaining the status quo (especially if the status quo means maintaining degraded systems or failing systems) but rather is about protecting and stewarding functional and working natural, cultural, and economic systems that promote the triple bottom line: people, planet, and prosperity. We believe regenerative travel can help restore nature and culture in a destination, building on the foundation of sustainable tourism, putting us on a path to achieving true sustainability. (CREST, 2021)

Tourism that maximizes the benefits to local communities, minimizes negative social or environmental impacts, and helps local people conserve fragile cultures and habitats. (The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2020)

Tourism that leads to the management of all resources in a manner that economic, social, and aesthetic needs are fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biodiversity, and life-support systems. (The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2020)

Travelers’ philanthropy is tourism businesses and travelers making concrete contributions of time, talent, and treasure to local projects beyond what is generated through the normal tourism business. (Travelers’ Philanthropy Handbook, 2011)

This idea has since evolved into what we now refer to as ‘Impact Tourism.’ See the above definition.

While there is no single accepted definition of what constitutes volunteer tourism [or “voluntourism”], generally it involves the inclusion of a volunteer component to a vacation experience. According to one academic, to be a voluntourist is to “volunteer in an organized way to undertake holidays that may involve aiding or alleviating the material poverty of some groups in society, the restoration of certain environments or research into aspects of society or environment.” (Travelers’ Philanthropy Handbook, 2011)