Past Contests:

Local Traditions Photo Contest: 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, ECOCLUB.com - 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.

"I Love Responsible Travel Because..." Campaign: 2016

This contest asked our Facebook followers what they love most about responsible travel and why they choose to travel responsibly. We also asked to hear about life changing responsible travel experiences.

First Place: Theresa Conn

Second Place: Kris Wilson

My key words for Responsible Traveling:

R-espect other cultures
E-co friendly
S-ay Hello
P-reserve nature
O-pen-mindedness
N-ature conscious
S-hop local businesses
I-mpact positively
B-e courteous
L-earn another language
E-ducate yourself

T-ake tours
R-ecycle
A-dvertise travel destinations
V-enture out
E-nvironmental awareness
L-ocal pride

Third Place: Milan Gamble

I love responsible travel for the cultural exchange. My Namibian students had intriguing mental pictures of Americans, built on the steady raft of fleeting media that floats across the ocean. All my young students knew about Chris Brown and Rihanna's issues, and assumed I knew Beyonce personally. Michael Jackson's memorial service pre-empted their evening news. After time they learned who I was as a person, as a teacher, and they learned that this foreigner is more than the sum of tabloid and CNN headlines. And I learned that many of my students had nicer cell phones than me. That their parents' had immense pride in their children, the first generation born free into their new nation. That someone arm-deep in a freshly slaughtered cow may have a 9-5 job in a classy department store in the city. That the students' appetite for the one complete set of Harry Potter books in the school library necessitates careful diplomatic negotiations by the librarian. I love this kind of travel, the kind that helps you forget about the glossy pictures and remember the warm ties that bind us.

These winners were selected by a prestigious panel of judges including:

  • Elizabeth Becker, author of Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism
  • Dorinda Elliot, consultant and previous Global Affairs Editor of Conde Nast Traveler
  • Gail Henry, Sustainable Tourism Product Specialist, Caribbean Tourism Organization
  • Jonathan Tourtellot, Geotourism Editor of National Geographic Traveler
  • Antonis Petropoulos, Editor, ECOCLUB.com—International Ecotourism Club

Our first place winner received two nights at the beautiful LEED certified Orchard Hotel in San Francisco. This intimate, boutique hotel is proof that chic style and eco-friendly living can go hand in hand. Find out more about the Orchard Hotel and their green initiatives on their webpage.

"GoGreen" Campaign: 2015

This contest asked participants to submit a photo or video with a description of their sustainable trip to the CREST Facebook Timeline. The entry with the most Facebook likes won a 2-night trip to The Inn in Vermont! The winner was Conor Lorenzo Sanchez with 84 likes, and here's his entry:

Finca Esperanza Verde is one of the best places I've visited in Central America. Nestled in the remote northern mountains of Nicaragua, this eco-lodge is not only environmentally friendly and economically sustainable, it offers this gorgeous view, which should be enjoyed with a cup of local organic coffee and a swing in the hammock. Take a look here to learn more about #‎FincaEsperanzaVerde: http://fincaesperanzaverde.com/. #‎esperanzaverde #‎Matagalpa #‎Nicaragua #‎hammocklife #‎coffeecountry #‎rutadecafe #‎coffeeroute #‎ecolodge #‎offthegrid #‎GoGreen

The INN at Montgomery Center is a historic, rambling 6500-square foot lumber baron's home, built in 1890 in a quintessential Vermont town. The INN features an attached carriage house and views of the beautiful Trout River flowing out back. It has been renovated with great care from stem to stern, creating a warm, inviting space that embraces guests with amenities, décor, and special touches at every turn.

In addition to a range of eco-friendly outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, biking and skiing, The INN uses many local ingredients for the restaurant (organic syrup, veggies, eggs) and they also use green practices in housekeeping for guest towels and bedding, etc.