Transforming the Way the World Travels

Responsible travel requires responsible travel options and education. Whether you represent a destination or a tourism business that wants to move forward sustainably, a funder looking to make a difference in our world's precious places, or a professor who would like to instill in your students the importance of responsible travel on our world's environments, cultures, and economies, we're here to help. Contact us at staff@responsibletravel.org to find out how to get involved.

About Us

 

The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is a unique policy-oriented research organization dedicated to increasing the positive global impact of responsible tourism. CREST assists governments, policy makers, tourism businesses, nonprofit organizations, and international agencies with finding solutions to critical issues confronting tourism, the world’s largest service industry. CREST provides interdisciplinary analysis and innovative solutions through research, field projects, publications, consultancies, conferences, courses, and documentary films, recognizing tourism's potential as a tool for poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation.

CREST's Mission
To promote responsible tourism policies and practices so that local communities may thrive and steward their cultural resources and biodiversity.

History

Originally known as the Center for Ecotourism and Sustainable Development (CESD), CREST was established in 2003 as a bi-coastal institute, with offices at Stanford University and in Washington, DC. It was co-founded by Dr. William (Bill) Durham, a highly respected Stanford Professor of Anthropology and a MacArthur "genius" fellow and Dr. Martha Honey, an author and internationally recognized authority on responsible travel who has been named one of world's top 10 eco-travel "watchdogs" by Conde Nast Traveler.

Durham and Honey first conceived of creating CREST during the United Nations' International Year of Ecotourism in 2002 when Stanford hosted a large conference of leading ecotourism specialists and thinkers. CREST was initially a project of the Institute for Policy Studies and shared offices and some staff in Washington with The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). After a few years of growth, CREST changed its legal name and became an independent nonprofit organization, registered as a 501(c)(3) in Washington, DC with its own Board of Directors. CREST's current Executive Director is Dr. Gregory Miller, who assumed leadership of the organization upon Honey's retirement in 2019.

View CREST's 2019 Impact Report here. Learn about CREST's past projects and milestones from 2003 - 2018 here.

Courtesy of READ Nepal

The Need for CREST

Today tourism is the world’s largest employer, accounting for one in 10 jobs globally, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Tourism is especially important to poor countries and is the main foreign exchange earner for 83% of developing countries. International travel has continued to grow annually, even during the recent global economic recession. In 2012, international tourism arrivals surpassed 1 billion and arrivals are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.

The rise of responsible travel in the last quarter of the 20th century challenged the way conventional tourism operates and created the principles and tools to make tourism a force for good. Ecotourism (and related concepts) have demonstrated that, if developed responsibly, tourism can help to eliminate rural poverty, foster cultural understanding and peace, educate travelers about special places and indigenous cultures, and provide economic opportunity and pride to local communities and indigenous peoples.

CREST joined World Environmental Day Expo at IMF June 5, 2011

Yet today many destinations are being negatively impacted by irresponsible tourism. One reason is that the tourism industry, despite its size and importance, has suffered from a lack of thoughtful scrutiny and attention – both in public debate and in cutting edge research and analysis. As Michael Caruso, Editor-in-Chief of Smithsonian wrote in the magazine's 2013 travel issue, "Tourism has become one of the most powerful, most influential and least-examined forces in the world." CREST was created with a goal to counter this deficiency in insightful and cutting edge analysis of the tourism industry.

CREST's core programs and projects have focused on best practices in:
  • Ecotourism
  • Cruise tourism
  • Coastal and marine tourism
  • Community-based tourism
  • Impact tourism, previously known as travelers' philanthropy
  • Overtourism
  • Indigenous tourism

As a cross-cutting, interdisciplinary institute, CREST stands alone, having built an international network of highly-trained experts who provide critical analysis and practical solutions in areas of environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tourism.

Where We're Going

In recent years, CREST has deepened its focus on climate change and the Caribbean, as well as on coastal, island, and marine tourim, which are the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry. CREST believes that the two most critical challenges to responsible tourism today are climate change and overtourism, topics on which CREST provides thought leadership through its annual World Tourism Day Forums, publications, and media outreach.

Responsible travel is no longer the goal of ecotourism alone; it must be embraced by the entire travel industry. In this era of climate change, responsible travel is not an option, but an imperative. Given this reality, CREST remains committed to its original vision to transform the way the world travels.

The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit public charity and the majority of our work is funded by donations and grants. To make a secure, tax-deductible donation, click here.