Ximena is a sustainable and community-based tourism specialist. Originally from Bolivia, she worked with several international organizations there prior to moving to Washington, DC, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Asociación Hombre y Naturaleza Bolivia. She has also worked with local Bolivian government at state and municipal levels. Ximena provides best-practice training courses for tour guides and others involved in rural and community base tourism and helps to develop the tourism product. Currently, she is working in community base tourism in Chihuahua, México. She holds a Master's degree in Sustainable Tourism Management from UCI (Universidad para la Cooperación Internacional), in San José, Costa Rica. Ximena is fluent in Spanish and English.
Dan Berrien is a sustainable tourism and real estate development specialist with expertise in planning, design and management. He has extensive experience in private sector development with a focus on the Caribbean and the Americas, and has also consulted with non-governmental and government organizations. Berrien's work has involved land use planning, business development, and market research related to sustainable tourism project implementation. He was a lead consultant with CREST in developing the business plan for the UNEP's SIFT Network. Berrien holds a Master's degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Eric Bergstrom is the President and Founder of Bergstrom Capital Advisors, Inc. (BCA), located in Irvine, California. BCA is a discrete, privately-held real estate capital market and strategic advisory firm that provides professional and highly responsive capital market execution for real estate owners, investors and developers of all product types in commercial and residential real estate. During his 25-year career in the real estate capital markets, Bergstrom has advised hundreds of real estate owners, investors and developers throughout Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and the United States. Assignments have included strategic planning, entity and project-level acquisition due diligence/transaction structuring, land planning/design, market and financial feasibility analyses, and capital market advisory assignments, including workouts/restructures, mergers and acquisitions, sale advisory, and entity formations. Bergstrom formed BCA in 2001, after 13 years as a CPA and founder of Ernst & Young/Kenneth Leventhal & Co.'s Real Estate Capital Markets Group (EYKL), where he led all real estate capital market assignments in the western United States, including the largest equity placement in the history of the firm.
Seema Bhatt is a consultant based in India, specializing in projects and research related to ecotourism, biodiversity, certification, and climate change. Her particular focus is on strengthening the links between ecotourism, biodiversity conservation, and local livelihoods. As the South Asia Coordinator for the USAID supported Biodiversity Conservation Network, she coordinated two projects on ecotourism. Bhatt has worked extensively with other ecotourism projects in India and elsewhere in South Asia. She was a Fulbright Research Scholar based with CREST in Washington, D.C., where she explored the feasibility of ecotourism certification in India. She co-authored Ecotourism Development in India (Cambridge University Press, 2008). Bhatt is the Honorary Secretary of the Ecotourism Society of India. She holds a Master's degree in Environmental Studies from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Amos Bien is a population ecologist by academic training and administrator, and works in the tourism and standardization sustainability field. He was the lead consultant in developing the "Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria," author of the Tourism Sustainability Scorecard for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), member of the ISO Technical Committee on Tourism, author of the Guide for Tourism: Instrument for Environmental and Social Management (IUCN) for the environmental authorities of Central America and the Dominican Republic, and lead consultant for the study "Policy elements for the sustainability of cruise tourism in Central America" (IDB and INCAE). Bien also recently worked for the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) on sustainable tourism issues, where he coordinated the projects for establishing a Global Sustainable Tourism Partnership and the Sustainable Investment and Finance in Tourism (SIFT) initiative. He is a founding member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and is the founder and CEO of Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge and Reserve, one of the first ecolodges and private reserves in Costa Rica. Bien has also worked as a university professor, and in business administration, environmental auditing, and construction. He was the founding president of the Costa Rican Private Nature Reserves Association, president of the Costa Rican Youth Hostel Association, treasurer of the Federation of Costa Rican Environmental Organizations, member of the National Biodiversity Commission, and a country representative to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development.
Dr. Conroy is an economist, Latin American expert, and former professor at the University of Texas (1971-1996) and Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (2003-2006). He worked for the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (1996-2008) where he focused on development of advocacy-led certification systems for sustainable tourism, ecotourism and other industries. His consultancies have included building global participation in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), strengthening benefits for small-scale producers and communities in both the FSC certification forestry system and the Fair Trade system worldwide, and creating new certification systems for U.S. agricultural production (emphasizing farm worker justice and food safety). He is the author of Branded! How the 'Certification Revolution' Is Transforming Global Corporations (New Society Publishers, 2007).
Jorge De Vicente is a sustainable tourism and competitiveness specialist with expertise in value chain analysis, sustainability assessment, strategic planning and marketing. He has ample experience advising governments, the private sector, and civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue. Based in Washington, D.C., he has worked for the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF-IDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and for CREST. Vicente led the development of the innovative and highly acclaimed IDB Tourism Sustainability Scorecard for Private Sector Projects. He holds a Master's degree in International Affairs from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.
Erika Harms is the founder of EH Global Solutions, an organization focused on bridging solutions amongst sustainable implementers. She has served as the Executive Director of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and is currently a member of the UN Foundation. Harms has focused on creating platforms to bring together the private and public sectors in support of the United Nations' conservation priorities, and has spearheaded initiatives such as the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism and the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. In 2008, Condé Nast Traveler recognized Harms as a "Trail Blazer" in Sustainable Tourism and in 2010 she received the HSMAI award for Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing. Harms holds a degree of Attorney at Law and a Master's degree in Business Administration and Natural Resource Management from INCAE, Central American Institute of Business Administration, in Alajuela, Costa Rica. Born in Costa Rica, Dr. Harms' native languages are Spanish and German.
Yuri Horowitz has 17 years of experience working in the travel and tourism industry, with experience across the entire value chain — from front-end hospitality to high level tourism planning and policy. Specializing in community engagement and emerging destinations, he focuses on developing a shared vision among stakeholders and implementing programs that have far-reaching community benefits. Some of the organizations Horowitz has worked with include the World Bank, Clinton Foundation, U.S. Peace Corps, USAID, U.S. Travel Association, Tourism Cares, Solimar International and Starwood Hotels. He has a Master of Tourism in Sustainable Destination Management from George Washington University's Business School and a B.Sc. in Business Administration from the University of Colorado – Boulder. A traveler at heart, he has been to 57 countries on six continents and worked on tourism development projects all over the world from Peru and Haiti to Mali and Sri Lanka.
Dr. Hunt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Pennsylvania State University, and Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology. He has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences from Texas A&M University, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Kentucky. Between 2009-2012 he was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology and the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, where he worked alongside CREST co-founder William Durham. Dr. Hunt's research focuses on the outcomes of tourism for both host communities and travelers. In fieldwork in Latin America, Dr. Hunt uses his background in environmental anthropology and an interest in political ecology to assess the impact of tourism on biodiversity conservation and sustainable community development in rural destination communities, often near parks and protected areas. This includes experience in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, the Peruvian Amazon, coastal and highland Nicaragua, Lake Atitlan Guatemala, and the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Recently, he has also leveraged earlier experiences in the field of psychology to research the ways that travel influences people's subsequent behavior. He has explored these ideas in the context of nature-based tourism and university alumni travel programs, with a particular focus on subsequent pro-environmental behavior and philanthropy directed at conservation and research efforts. At Penn State, Dr. Hunt teaches courses focusing on tourism, eco-tourism, nature-based tourism, responsible travel, and social and environmental sustainability.
Judy Karwacki is a sustainable tourism veteran. She has been the co-owner of Jubilee Travel, a retail agency in Canada, since 1986. After senior consulting positions at Deloitte, ARA Consulting and KPMG/Bearing Point, Karwacki founded Small Planet Consulting in 2002. She is recognized internationally as an expert in indigenous tourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism, experiential tourism and other niche segments that sustainably connect conservation, communities and culture. Karwacki has worked on numerous projects in Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Mexico, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific region. Her work focuses on destination development, product development, marketing, experiential tourism, strengthening tourism enterprises, and forming strategic connections with international industry partners. Karwacki speaks regularly at industry conferences for organizations such as CREST, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT). She is a founding member of www.AdventureAngels.org. Karwacki holds a Bachelor's degree in International Studies, a Master's degree in Political Studies, and a Master of Business Administration in Tourism Management.
Brian Kastl is an international consultant on conservation, ecotourism, and environmental education in the Asia Pacific region. He leads a project for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Conservation Society of Pohnpei to balance development with the protection of ecosystem services in Micronesia. In Southeast Asia, he leads a project with rural communities on disaster risk management for the Asian Development Bank (ADB). With experience assessing environmental impacts, Kastl advises top-tier eco-resorts in Cambodia on the development of conservation programs. His focus is at the community level, where he strengthens livelihood security and resilience to climate change through recommendations for natural resource management. Kastl has led coastal and water resource management projects for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to enable a Cambodian village to improve sustainability and grasp ecotourism opportunities in mangrove forests. His other conservation work spans the globe, including projects in Myanmar, Bali, Hawaii, Ecuador, New Zealand, and South Africa. As a Fellow of the East-West Center's Asia Pacific Leadership Program, Kastl co-developed a network of ecotourism-based social entrepreneurs to protect traditional livelihoods of ethnic minorities in Greater Tibet. Kastl holds a Master's degree from the School of Oceanography Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii. As a Fulbright Scholar, he has further research experience on watersheds in South Africa and flooding hazards in New Zealand.
Susan Kennedy is a cultural heritage and sustainable tourism specialist with expertise in marketing and branding. She has lived and worked in Cambodia, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Panama, the UK and the U.S. She most recently managed logistics for a Silk Road archaeological site in Kazakhstan and has worked extensively in community-based tourism, ecotourism and sustainable tourism for several NGOs. Kennedy used her expertise in marketing and branding to assist Cambodia's Minister of Tourism with the country's first-ever branding campaign, "Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder." She holds a Masters of Arts in Managing Archaeological Sites from University College London and a Masters of Tourism Administration from The George Washington University in Sustainable Destination Management. Kennedy's professional website can be found at: www.susankennedy.org.
Manuel Knight is the owner and operator of KnightConsult, LLC, and specializes s in the fields of master planning, commercial real estate development and action plans for emerging tourism destinations, applying skills such as product conceptualizations, research & analysis of international and domestic markets, building the strategic framework, value chain analysis, market positioning, financial feasibility studies [cash flow analysis] and cost-benefit analysis. He has extensive familiarity with tourism development trends in key tourism arenas including the Mediterranean and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Central America, and Southeast Asia-Indian Ocean basin. He most enjoys preserving and adapting historic districts to serve as tomorrow's distinctive destinations in emerging economies. Manuel speaks fluent Spanish and French.
James has almost 40 years of experience as a sustainable tourism planner, marketer, educator and trainer in 38 countries across Asia/South Pacific, the Americas and Africa/Indian Ocean. He has specialized in ecotourism; coastal, rural and aboriginal cultural tourism; health and wellness tourism; and heritage, spiritual, educational and adventure travel. James has managed more than 420 national, regional and community tourism projects (business plans, market research, training programs, etc). He has prepared over 130 national, provincial and regional sustainable tourism master plans, developed international grading standards and certification programs, prepared investment, marketing and e-marketing competitiveness strategies as well as social, economic and environmental impact assessments, green management strategies and resort and ecolodge planning and construction. His tourism planning workshops have been attended by more than 8,000 participants worldwide. He is considered an international expert in several areas, including the development of cross-border regional tourism strategies, such as the Northeast Asia Multi-destination Tourism Strategy, including Northeast China, Mongolia, far east Russia, North Korea, South Korea and Japan as well as, most recently, the Cooperative Tourism Strategy for the islands of the Indian Ocean.
Tourism | Heritage | Planning
Fergus Maclaren is a sustainable tourism and cultural heritage management professional with 25 years of experience in Canada and internationally, primarily Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. His background includes a broad range of tourism planning, destination management and community development aspects including training, risk and gap analyses, performance indicators development, research, site evaluation, needs assessment, Internet marketing, communications plans, site branding, multi-stakeholder evaluation and participation, program design and evaluation, large group presentations and facilitation. He has taught sustainable tourism at McGill University and lectured on the subject at post-secondary institutions in North America and Asia. Mr. Maclaren was the Director of the United Nations-funded International Year of Ecotourism program in 2001-03. He has acted as the Canadian National Expert Representative of the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee since 2008, and was elected President in December 2017. Recent projects include: coaching sites for nomination to Canada’s Tentative World Heritage List; organizing workshops and knowledge cafes on what IUCN and ICOMOS have referred to as the ‘Nature-Culture Journey’, towards the formulation of guidelines for Tentative Indigenous World Heritage Sites; and acted in an advisory role for the development of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s Visitor Management Assessment Tool (VMAT).
Robin Mason is a sustainable tourism specialist based outside Washington, D.C. with expertise in building alliances between the public and private sectors, community-based tourism, destination management, and tourism product development. She has over 20 years of experience working with USAID, World Bank, and local governments in developing tourism strategies, tourism clusters, value chain analyses, and in implementing tourism plans. Mason forged a worldwide public-private partnership for USAID's Global Development Alliance Office, carried out tourism sector analyses in Mozambique, and worked with the Istanbul government on tourism improvement. She was part of CREST's team for UNEP's SIFT Network project. Mason holds a Master's degree in International Development from American University and is completing a tourism administration degree from The George Washington University.
David Michelmore, Director of the Consultancy for Conservation, is a specialist in the sustainable development, management and conservation of heritage sites. His work in 37 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific has involved implementing UNESCO projects and activities in 17 of these countries. Michelmore has extensive experience in training, capacity building and working with local communities on the sustainable development of heritage tourism assets, having developed manuals for tourism development and conservation of historic towns in Asia on behalf of the UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok. He has key experience in fundraising for tourism development and has organized three international donors' conferences on behalf of UNESCO and UNDP. His work partnering local authorities has involved the implementation of tourism development projects in China, Nepal and Turkey. Since 2005, his work has concentrated on the Middle East (Iraq - Kurdistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria) and South-East Europe, and has included the design of innovative tools for tourism development in Damascus and Istanbul. Michelmore has worked in Iraq since 2004 and has been a full-time resident since 2009, implementing tourism-related projects in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.
Fred Nelson is the Executive Director of Maliasili Initiatives, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting locally-based, incentive-driven conservation efforts in Africa. Based in Arusha, Tanzania from 1998 to 2010, Nelson has recently relocated to Burlington, VT. He served as the local coordinator of CREST's 2008 International Travelers' Philanthropy Conference held in Arusha and has been a research consultant for several CREST publications. A scholar and practitioner on natural resource governance, Nelson has published widely and has worked for international NGOs and development agencies. He is the editor of Community Rights, Conservation & Contested Land: The Politics of Natural Resource Governance in Africa (Earthscan, 2010). Nelson completed his Master's degree at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.
Megan O'Donnell is an economic development consultant and business analyst. With extensive experience working for both public and private sector clients, she brings a unique perspective to researching market trends and developing international business opportunities. As a technology entrepreneur, she developed business case models and pitched them to venture capitalist investors. As a private sector development advisor to governments, she researched international trends in the investment marketplace in a range of sectors, including sustainable tourism. O'Donnell has overseen a project on promoting market linkages for the Caribbean tourism industries and has worked with tourism and other industries in Africa (Gambia, Ghana and Tanzania), Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia (Mongolia) to leverage resources and attract corporate partners and investors. She holds a Master's degree in International Development from Stanford University.
Dr. Pamela Peeke is an internationally recognized expert, physician, scientist and author in the fields of nutrition, stress, fitness and public health. Dr. Peeke was the first physician elected to the ISPA board of directors and during her tenure she facilitated the introduction of spa medicine to professionals in the healing arts as well as the media.
Dr. Peeke serves as Chief Medical Correspondent for Discovery Fit & Health TV, where she is featured on the award-winning National Body Challenge series and is the host of Could You Survive? As Chief Lifestyle Expert for WebMD, Dr. Peeke's multimedia healthy lifestyle program, Everyday Fitness with Dr. Pam Peeke, is followed by over 50 million WebMD members, including viewers of CBS's Early Morning Show, where she serves as WebMD's expert. Dr. Peeke is a New York Times bestselling author of four books, including Fit to Live and Body for Life for Women. She is a regular in-studio medical commentator for the national networks, contributing editor for national magazines including Fitness, Glamour and Prevention, and is a member of Oprah's O Team of medical experts.
The American College of Sports Medicine named Dr. Peeke the national spokesperson for their global "Exercise IS Medicine" campaign. She has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine as one of America's leading physicians. Board certified in internal medicine, Dr. Peeke also holds dual master's degrees in public health and public policy. She was the first senior research fellow in the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine, is a Pew Scholar in nutrition and metabolism, and holds the position of Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland. Dr. Peeke is senior advisor to the US Surgeon General with whom she is implementing the Surgeon General Walks for a Healthy and Fit Nation. A triathlete and mountaineer, Dr. Peeke is known as the "doc who walks the talk" and is the founder of the Peeke Performance Center for Healthy Living™.
Margie Peters-Fawcett is a publications editor, providing editing, writing, and translation (French and Spanish to and from English) services across a broad number of sectors. These include agriculture, biodiversity, climate change, education, finance, gender, health and nutrition, impact evaluations, as well as private sector and social development. She has extensive experience of more than 25 years developed from working with organizations spanning Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Peters-Fawcett has worked full-time for various multilateral development agencies, as well as the private sector. Most recently, she has provided services to CREST, Inter-American Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, KPMG (UK), Kolibri Kapital (Norway) and the World Bank. She is a professional member of the societies of Editors of New South Wales and Canberra (Australia) and a member of the Freelance Editors Association (USA).
Norie Quintos is a consultant for the travel industry on communications strategy, media relations, custom content, and messaging. She helps destinations and travel companies find and tell their stories through communications audits, seminars and training, coaching, and print and pixel projects. Clients have included Destination British Columbia, Destination Canada, KÜHL adventure clothing, Academic Travel Abroad, South Expeditions, and others. An award-winning journalist, she is an Editor at Large for National Geographic Travel Media. She has spoken and presented at the conferences of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, Travel+Social Good, the Public Relations Society of America, Canada Media Marketplace, the Educational Travel Consortium, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, and the CREST Forum on Sustainable Tourism. She is on the board of directors of the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund, and the advisory boards of the Transformational Travel Council, Adventure Travel Media, and GivingWay. She is the former executive editor of National Geographic Traveler and was an editor at U.S. News and World Report and Caribbean Travel and Life. She has traveled the world, and is based outside Washington, D.C. www.noriequintos.com
Kimberley Player is an economic and real estate consultant with 15 years of experience in strategic planning for developers, landowners, investors, public sector agencies, NGOs and corporations. She has an extensive market research background and expertise in product positioning, demand forecasting and market assessments. Player's passion for travel and unique places has led to a strong interest in tourism and related development. Her goal is to ensure sustainable growth that celebrates local character, while promoting holistic community planning. Her previous work experience includes nearly 10 years with real estate firm CBRE, where she was responsible for a wide variety of consulting assignments. Player also worked as Director of Research for Intrawest, conducting resort research in support of development and marketing efforts. Kimberley has a Finance degree from the University of British Columbia and a Certificate in Sustainable Tourism Destination Management from The George Washington University.
Abigail Rome is a specialist in ecotourism and sustainable tourism and is director of Tierra Vista Tours & Consulting, based in the Washington, D.C. area. She has over 20 years of experience in biodiversity conservation and natural area management, most of which focuses on developing and improving ecotourism as a means for sustainable development. Rome lived and worked in Ecuador for five years and has pursued assignments throughout Latin America. She has worked with CREST on the development of internationally-accepted criteria and methodologies for sustainable tourism certification. Rome has a Master's degree in Plant Ecology from Duke University.
Mark Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation, concurrently serves as the Executive Director of the St. Kitts Foundation and the Fundación Bahía de Loreto A.C. Both of these subsidiary foundations are the philanthropy arms of sustainable resort developments.
Mr. Spalding has also served as a consultant to Rancho La Puerta spa/resort and its foundation regarding the conservation of the Tecate River Valley, and as an advisor to Kerzner International Limited to assist its formation of the Kerzner Marine Foundation. He is the co-author of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation's study on ecotourism and conducted green hotel evaluations in India.
Mr. Spalding chairs the Council of the National Whale Conservation Fund and is an active member of the marine working group, Baja California group, and coral reef group of the funders' organization, the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity. He has served as a member of the Environmental Grants Advisory Committee of FINCOMUN (Tijuana's Community Foundation). He was a professor of international law and policy at UCSD's Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies for 10 years before bringing his extensive experience with the legal and policy aspects of ocean conservation to The Ocean Foundation's grantmaking strategy, evaluation process, and development of sustainability standards for coastal development.
Dr. Stronza is an environmental anthropologist and associate professor at Texas A&M University. Most of her field experience is in the Amazon regions of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, but she has also worked in Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, Antigua, Barbuda, Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Botswana. Since 1993, Dr. Stronza has conducted ethnographic research in one village in the Peruvian Amazon, studying longitudinal effects of ecotourism on local livelihoods, natural resource use, and cultural identity. She has published over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and earned several grants from the National Science Foundation for her research on biodiversity conservation and ecotourism.
Emmanuel Sulle currently works in Tanzania as an independent researcher. For over 10 years, he has carried out a variety of research projects commissioned by, or in collaboration with, MISERIOR-Germany, Fulbright, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum, Sand County Foundation, and Health and Development International Consultants. He has authored and co-authored a number of research reports on tourism revenue transparency, wildlife management areas, as well as biofuels, land access, and rural livelihoods in Tanzania. Sulle's recent co-authored paper, "Tourism in Maasai communities: A chance to improve livelihoods," was published by the Journal of Sustainable Tourism. His research interest includes empowerment of local communities to retain substantial revenues from tourism investments. Sulle earned his Master's degree in Public Policy from the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland College Park in 2012. He has a Bachelor's degree in Economics from St. Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT).
Sandra Tassel is the President of Look at the Land, a conservation consulting firm based outside of Washington, D.C. In her consulting work, she assists local and state governments, nonprofit organizations, and advocates for natural resource protection to develop and implement conservation strategies and programs. Ecotourism is often an element of her projects, especially in Latin America, where she has advised community groups, businesses, and NGOs on markets, communications, business plans, guide training and tourism product development. Tassel is the author of The Conservation Program Handbook: A Guide for Local Government Land Acquisition (Island Press, 2009).
Erick Vargas is President of the Costa Rican-based consultancy Sustainable by Nature. His areas of expertise include ecotourism, land use planning, guiding and interpretation, training in good environmental practices, product design, community tourism products and services, sustainability implementation, environmental impact assessment, and tourism research. Vargas led the Costa Rican research team in CREST's 2-year study of the impacts of large-scale tourism and vacation home development on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. From 1997-2005, he headed the international training and consulting department at the prestigious National Biodiversity Institute (INBio). Vargas holds a Master's of Ecotourism from the Latin American University of Science and Technology.
Eric is an award-winning journalist who went on to senior positions at leading public relations agencies Burson-Marsteller, Edelman and Porter Novelli in the United States and Paris. He has provided c-suite communications counsel, op-ed writing, social media strategy, media training, media relations and issues management to global technology, consumer, cultural and NGO clients including HP, Microsoft, the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, the Lincoln Motor Company and TAG Group, among others.
Previously a writer and news editor for The East Hampton Star (NY), he has reported on-air for National Public Radio from Budapest as well as other international and domestic reporting assignments. Op-eds he has written or placed for clients have appeared in the Financial Times, The New York Times, The International New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
In Paris, Eric founded Echo Kilo Communication (2007) to advise IOC President Jacques Rogge on issues surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and served as director of The Conference Board’s European Council on Corporate Communications. His clients also included TAG Group in Geneva for its holdings in private aviation, motor cars, and Artliner, a producer of contemporary art exhibitions in partnership with leading international galleries.
Eric returned to New York from Paris in 2013 to join Burson-Marsteller as Managing Director and account lead for the Lincoln Motor Company reimagination campaign featuring Matthew McConaughey. He currently advises leadership of the Authors Guild, America’s oldest author advocacy group, on digital-era intellectual property and copyright campaigns, as well as providing communications and development counsel to other not-for-profits and early stage technology ventures.
Talia Salem has over 10 years of experience in tourism, social media marketing, and content strategy. She recently started her own digital marketing and tourism consulting practice working with such clients as the World Bank, George Washington University's International Institute of Tourism Studies, Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Apoyo Lodge. She also teaches Digital Marketing and Distribution at Georgetown's Masters in Global Hospitality Leadership Program. Prior to consulting, she worked as Manager of Social & Content for Brand USA, the USA's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States. Talia oversaw the launch of Brand USA's new consumer websites in 15 markets including visuals and content strategy. She oversaw global social media and content campaigns in 15 markets in 8 languages. She also launched the Great American Road Trips campaign, which traveled to every state in the USA, and supported the Flavors of the USA and Great Outdoors campaigns.
Prior to Brand USA, Talia worked as a travel journalist and consulted for various tourism organizations. She was the managing editor of Smart Meetings magazine where she covered the North American travel and meetings industries. She is the co-organizer of DC Chapter of Travel Massive. A California native, she grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but has lived around the world. Salem is fluent in English, French and Arabic, and is currently learning Spanish. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and French from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as a Master's degree in Sustainable Tourism Destination Management from The George Washington University.
Martin Silber is a 15+ years experienced renewable energy finance and project development expert who has provided consulting services and strategic advice to the federal government (including military agencies), renewable energy project developers, and many leading advisory firms. To date, Mr. Silber has advised on the financial transactions associated with over one gigawatt of energy projects (wind, solar, storage, biofuels, etc), often by leading teams conducting analyses ranging from project feasibility to project development. Besides project finance, Martin is also an expert on renewable startups, SREC markets, and maintains partnerships with a wide network of renewable energy funders, product innovators, and project developers. Martin also has an interest and experience in financing international transactions, particularly in finding the most effective ways to finance renewable energy projects in developing countries, and in sustainable tourism. Martin is currently advising CREST on its Sustainable Investment and Financing in Tourism initiative.
From Costa Rica to Ecuador, the Galapagos, Spain and Mexico, Wilkins has implemented a wide range of education and development projects. She has lived in Monteverde, Costa Rica for the past four years and, until recently, directed the Monteverde Institute, an academic and research institution that advances sustainable living, locally and globally, through education, research and collaborative community development programs. During her tenure as Executive Director, the Institute developed the first-ever destination-wide Travelers' Philanthropy program and, in collaboration with CREST, co-hosted the third International Conference on Travelers' Philanthropy as a core component of responsible travel. While living in Madrid, Spain, Wilkins worked for the World Tourism Organization of the UN and later founded Altamira Tours, which specializes in culinary and cultural tours in Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. Wilkins holds a Master's degree in Public Administration.
The Center for Responsible Travel has conducted research and field studies for a wide range of international development and aid agencies, philanthropic foundations, government agencies, academic institutions, conservation organizations, and tourism businesses. We work with clients of all sizes to identify and meet their needs on matters that range from corporate responsibility to destination stewardship, "green" finance, climate change, strategic planning, Travelers' Philanthropy, indigenous tourism, and much more. We draw on the experience of our own staff and tap into our extensive network of expert consultants working around the globe on a project-by-project basis, to meet the direct needs of each individual project.