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 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.


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.

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 8 or 9 jobs globally, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). 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, with 4% average annual growth.

The rise of responsible travel in the last quarter of the 20th century challenged the way conventional tourism operates and created the principals 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 5th, 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:
  • Coastal tourism
  • Residential and retirement developments
  • Ecotourism
  • Cruise tourism
  • Indigenous rights and tourism
  • 'Green' certification programs for tourism businesses
  • Travelers' philanthropy
  • Sustainable destination management
  • Tourism trends and consumer demand
  • Tools for financing sustainable tourism projects
  • Cost-benefit analyses of different types of 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.

New Directions

In 2015, CREST has again begun undertaking significant changes and realignments. Bill Durham retired as CREST Co-Director and Martha Honey became Executive Director. CREST is preparing to expand beyond Stanford University to create a new network of Academic Affiliations in partnerships with a select number of U.S. and international universities.

CREST is also moving to deepen its focus on coastal, island, and marine tourism, which are the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. The rapid pace of resort and vacation home developments along coastlines and on islands, and the aggressive expansion of cruise tourism, with ever bigger vessels and new ports-of-call, is contributing to a range of critical environmental and social problems. Building responsible tourism is no longer the goal of ecotourism alone; it musts be embraced by larger-scale and more conventional tourism as well.

Indeed, in this era of climate change, responsible travel is no longer an option, it is an imperative. Given these realities, CREST remains committed to its original tagline of "transforming 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.