CREST's "Local Traditions" Photo Contest

August 10 - 24, 2017

At the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), we believe that when you go on vacation, you don’t have to leave your values at home. Part of traveling responsibly means engaging with, and giving back to, the places you visit and the people you meet, and helping to preserve what’s special about the destination.

By entering our “Local Traditions” photo contest, participants showed their passion for responsible travel by sharing the inspiring stories of the people they’ve met on their journeys. Rachel Rees, of Massachusetts, took the top prize—a one-night stay in the eco-friendly Hotel Felix in Chicago—with her entry, below, which includes a photo and caption describing what she documented.

It wasn’t an easy choice. We received several excellent entries, all of which our esteemed judges (listed below) truly enjoyed. We’re sharing them here, at the bottom of the page, and will also share via CREST’s social media channels—Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

But, overall, Rachel’s entry did the best job of meeting the contest’s judging criteria (see below) and captured the spirit of the contest—by sharing, in image and words, a local tradition showing what’s special about a particular destination.

Congratulations, Rachel, and thank you to all those who entered the contest (listed below), and to our judges! Now, for the WINNING ENTRY, from Rachel Rees:

CAPTION: This man is the only basket maker in a small village outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. He was all smiles as he talked about his craft, sharing how he walks into the mountain forest and gathers his own bamboo, slices it by hand into precise strips, and weaves his beautiful creations. He only makes baskets upon request from members of the village as needed for harvesting, fishing, and household use. In return, members of the village bring him food from their harvests and meals from their cooking. He does not sell any baskets to local markets or visitors since he is happy living a simple life and “does not need the money.” His greatest wish is to pass on his skill to a younger generation in the village so that the tradition can continue. 

Judging: The winner wasl selected by a prestigious panel of judges including:

  • -Elizabeth Becker, author of Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel & Tourism
  • -Bret Love, Editor-in-Chief, Green Global Travel and Co-Founder, Green Travel Media
  • -Edward Hall, Transportation Specialist/Tourism Coordinator, Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • -Antonis Petropoulos , Editor, - International Ecotourism Club
  • -Jonathan Tourtellot, Founder, Destination Stewardship Center

Entries were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Esthetic appeal and photo composition (40%)
  • Moment captured and message shared (40%)
  • Relevance to the “Local Traditions” topic (20%)

Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):

Lauren Kana Chan

CAPTION: In Ilulissat, Greenland, the national costume is only worn on special festive occasions, such as the first day entering school at the beginning of August. Families arrive at school with children and parents dressed alike. The costume is decorated with colorful beads and fabric that capture the eyes and hearts of visitors who get a chance to see it. The teachers announce the name of each child, and, one by one, they come up to the front of the crowd and are handed a Greenlandic flag. The children gather together, smiling and waving their flags, while the parents take photographs and wipe the rolling tears in their eyes. 

Tim O'Donoghue

CAPTION: The photo is of a fancy dancer at a Pow Wow held by the Western Shoshone Tribe at the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho. Pow Wows have been a traditional competitive dance and social gathering of tribes for centuries.

Karen Stocker

CAPTION: In this photo of a hands-on pottery demonstration as part of Matambú Tours, university students from California State University, Fullerton, take part in community-based, community-owned cultural tourism in Chorotega Indigeonus Territory, Costa Rica. The pottery produced in this studio is made in accordance with longstanding tradition (using locally sourced clay and stones ground for glazes) as well as in keeping with present-day resource use and innovation (on a potter’s wheel made of a brake disc, plastic vat, and bicycle wheel). The studio itself was built in a traditional community ceremony of the sort used to build thatched-roof ranchos used as homes in past decades, and now built in order to value and maintain this pre-Colombian tradition. In sum, the image shows a contemporary Indigenous culture simultaneously rooted in ages old tradition and thriving within the contemporary context, neither frozen in time nor ignorant of the past. This photo shows what happens when cultural tourism is done well: it can be engaging, while acknowledging that culture change is normal, and cultural exchange in the form of tourism can be carried out in a manner of mutual benefit to local communities and tourists.


Content Rights: CREST reserves the right to use and duplicate the content submitted to this contest, with attribution, for the use of promoting CREST and the importance of responsible travel.
This contest was sponsored by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) and Hotel Felix.

Check out the winners from our Past Contests!