In mid-June, CREST successfully completed one of its current projects in Cuba: helping to organize the MARDELTUR 2017 sustainable tourism conference in Pinar del Rio province. In February, CREST was invited by two provincial university officials, Dr. Carlos Cesar Torres and Dr. Jorge Freddy Ramirez, to assist in organizing their 2nd International Congress on Marketing, Local Development and Tourism (MARDELTUR). They proposed that CREST identify a roster of international experts to speak at the MARDELTUR 2017 conference, to provided support for a number of Cuban speakers, and to cover the costs of certain other components. The timeline for organizing this Workshop was very short, and CREST is enormously grateful to both the Ford and Christopher Reynolds Foundations for providing the necessary financial support.
In the end, CREST brought a total of 10 international speakers and participants from Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. and provided support for 8 Cuban speakers. CREST also arranged for Cuba Educational Travel to organize a one-day pre-conference educational tour of Viñales for those who were not from the province. The bus tour included meetings with local owners of casas particulares, a luncheon at an organic farm and restaurant, a guided hike through tobacco fields and drying sheds, and a talk by the town historian. In addition, CREST arranged for its group to visit, at the end of the conference, the community of Las Terrazas and its La Moka Ecolodge, Cuba’s oldest and most successful experiment in ecotourism. Our expert resident guide provided a historic overview and a walking tour of the town to visit two artist's studios, a historical and a musical museum, and, for lunch, Cuba’s finest vegetarian restaurant.
The tourism workshop, held at Hotel Rancho San Vicente, a lovely relatively small rural resort outside the town of Viñales, included eight panels with presentations on topics ranging from agritourism, nature-based tourism, and travelers’ philanthropy to cruise tourism, urban and cultural tourism, marketing, and quality and sustainability standards. The speakers included academics from universities in Havana, Pinar del Rio, Holguín, and Santiago de Cuba, from national NGOs and institutions, as well as a handful of government officials, including the director of the Havana Bay redevelopment project. The tourism workshop participants also traveled by bus to the city of Pinar del Rio to attend the opening and closing sessions of the International Congress which included six distinct streams, in addition to tourism. This logistically challenging event came off with remarkably only a few glitches and great deal of comradery and good will.
The timing of this Tourism Workshop was auspicious. Given the UN’s declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, CREST arranged to have MARDELTUR 2017 listed as an officially recognized event of the International Year through the United Nations World Tourism Organization website.
In addition, Carlos Cesar, the President of the MARDELTUR 2017 organizing committee, eloquently outlined why sustainable tourism is a priority for Cuba. “Now that tourism is one of its main sources of revenue,” Dr. Cesar explained, “Cuba is pressed to develop the industry at a large scale, in association with investors and hotel administrators, cruise ships, golf courses and marinas. A number of foreign companies have already established presence, and representatives of many more have approached with proposals for new tourism projects. Parallel to the expansion of the mass tourism market,” Dr. Cesar continued, “Cuba has been developing another type of tourism: decentralized, small-scale, at the local level. In recent years, we have seen the rise of locally-driven private and public tourist enterprises, mainly lodging and food service, but also other attractions such as parks, museums, excursions, tours, and nautical, cultural and recreational activities, that generate employment and income for many Cuban workers and families and for local governments, while simultaneously diversifying the offer and enriching the experience for the tourist.”
Dr. Cesar concluded by explaining, “While these advances are promising, they also introduce elements that are cause for concern, mainly due to their social and environmental impacts and levels of quality. Cuba’s tourism offer urgently needs to be informed of and apply established global standards of sustainability and quality of service and develop its own, that will enable it to grow in moderation, both in quantity and quality of its visitors, obtain greater benefits from tourism and reduce costs and avoid negative impacts. Cuba has the potential to develop a tourism based on its rich natural and cultural resources, and to promote an authentic and distinctive form of tourism that attracts more demanding international visitors, offers a more interesting and educational stay, while at the same time generates greater benefits for the local population, protects the environment and respects indigenous culture; in other words, cultivate high-value and not just high-volume tourism.”
While these important themes were woven through the Workshop presentations and discussions, the conference also took place under the shadow of another reality. Throughout the week there was much speculation and concern about President Donald Trump’s plans to reverse some of the Obama administration’s key policy liberalizations towards Cuba. As the opening keynote speaker, Dr. Jose Luis Rodriguez, who is Cuba’s former Minister of the Economy, told the audience, “We are anticipating that Trump is planning to 'shoot a torpedo' directly at tourism in Cuba.” Indeed he did, just after the close of the conference, and the industry will now begin adjusting to the new norms in relation to U.S. travelers.
In Chihuahua, CREST continues working with local partners on a four-year indigenous tourism project supported by the Christensen Fund, which is designed to protect bio-cultural diversity in the Sierra Tarahumara around Creel and the Copper Canyon (Divisadero). From May 23 to 30, Ximena Alvis from CREST and our Mexican partners spent 8 days in Chihuahua visiting the communities of Huetosachi and Bacajipare, where the tourism experiences will take place. During this trip, Ximena had several meetings in Chihuahua city and Creel with our local partner CONTEC, the Christensen Fund, and the marketing team of the Secretary of Tourism of Chihuahua. These meetings served to inform all parties about the progress of the project and the next steps, especially the upcoming familiarization trip.
Ximena was accompanied by Laura Barragán (CREST) and Tatiana Amor (Christensen Fund). The meetings served to coordinate and finalize budgets and progress of the building of a community kitchen and handicraft space, and also the training of tour guides in Bacajipare and Huetosachi. This trip also helped community members practice the planned kitchen experience, as the ladies of Huetosachi prepared food as if they were interacting with tourists. While meeting with the communities, the group also worked with them to create a list of guidelines for tourists, which was an interesting exercise for the communities that allowed them to establish rules for visitation.
In the meeting with the marketing team of the Secretary of Tourism of Chihuahua, Ximena coordinated their assistance in dispersing information, designing printed materials for the experiences offered and the list of tourist guidelines, and maintaining the website.
The next steps from CREST and partner Mano del Mono in the following months will be to finish the construction of the almost-completed kitchen (by mid-July). The local community is overseeing the construction, decoration, and organization of the equipment in the kitchen. The familiarization trip will be held the third week of August, when both communities will showcase their offered experiences.
CREST is pleased to announce our latest book, Marine Tourism, Climate Change, and Resilience in the Caribbean, Volume I: Ocean Health, Fisheries, and Marine Protected Areas, was released in May. This is the first of two volumes focused on marine tourism in the Caribbean to be released. Edited by CREST Academic Affiliate Dr. Kreg Ettenger of the University of Maine, with assistance from CREST's Samantha Hogenson, the book features essays and case studies from eighteen different authors. Topics covered include Coral Reefs and Marine Ecosystems in the Face of Climate Change; Fisheries, Tourism, and Climate Change; and Marine Protected Areas as Climate Change Buffers and Tourism Magnets. The conclusion of the volume previews the second book of the series, which will focus on Marine Recreation, including Cruise Tourism, and is planned for release this summer.
Two companion volumes focusing on Coastal Tourism, Sustainability, and Climate Change in the Caribbean, published by Business Expert Press and CREST, were released in April. Following the same model, the books were edited by CREST's Martha Honey with assistance from Samantha Hogenson. All four books are designed for tourism professionals and academics and look at how climate change is impacting coastal and marine tourism in the Caribbean, and how tourism businesses are providing solutions.
The three available volumes may be purchased in paperback ($34.95) or eBook ($19.95) form through our co-publisher, Business Expert Press:
On September 27 (World Tourism Day), CREST and UN Environment - North America Office are co-hosting a high-profile forum to showcase the UN’s declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The day-long event will be held at the UN Foundation’s ‘green’ conference facilities in Washington, DC. This is the premier public event in Washington focused on the UN’s International Year and is endorsed by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The event will feature panels on the five key pillars identified by the UNWTO for the International Year. These range from tourism as a tool for poverty reduction to environmental protection, and mutual understanding and peace. Each panel will include two inspiring short testimonials by tourism leaders and will be moderated by well-known journalists. Among the speakers confirmed are Chris Blackwell, owner of Island Outpost resorts in Jamaica; Ewald Biemans, owner of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Aruba; Collin Laverty, owner of Cuba Educational Travel; Chief Douglass Neasloss, First Nations leader in the Great Bear Rainforest, Canada; and Elizabeth Becker, author of Overbooked. The day will include a luncheon prepared by local immigrant chefs and will end with a tasting of organic and biodynamic wines from Sonoma, CA.
An official Host Committee for the event will send out invitations, along with the full program, within the next few weeks. The event is being underwritten by corporate, NGO, and foundation sponsors. For more information contact Martha Honey, email@example.com or 202-347-9203, ext. 413.
In April, CREST decided to hold the release of our annual meta-analysis "The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics" until the September 27 Forum for the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development hosted by CREST and United Nations Environment – North America Office (see above). Because the 2017 version will focus on the five themes of the International Year, the International Year event provides a logical platform.
CREST is accepting "trends & statistic" factoids and quotes from tourism, social, cultural heritage, and environmental organizations, tourism experts, and practitioners regarding the prevalence, need for, and success stories of responsible travel until August 1st. If you would like to submit information for consideration or join CREST as a partnering organization, please contact Samantha Hogenson at firstname.lastname@example.org about opportunities. Partnering is completely free; the goal of the publication is to provide a snapshot of the industry and work together to distribute the information.
Please view the "Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2016" to get an idea of content and length of factoids for submission.
As indicated by the above Cuba article, CREST continues to work very actively in areas related to sustainable tourism development in this fascinating and ever-evolving country. Though the announcement by the Trump Administration to restrict individual travel to Cuba is discouraging, group travel like CREST’s next trip to Eastern Cuba is permitted. So, too, are the conferences, field projects, and studies CREST has been doing or planning to do with a growing number of Cuban partners.
CREST is proud to continue to offer our educational, people-to-people Charter Club Trips in partnership with one of the most respected and knowledgeable U.S. tour operators, Cuba Educational Travel. Join us this November 4 – 11 in exploring the lesser visited eastern side of the island: Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, Guantanamo City, Holguín, and Guardalavaca. CREST's Charter Club Trips allow us to take visitors to places we care about very deeply, in order to connect with the people and experience the environment and cultural heritage in a respectful way. We will stay in casas particulares, or bed & breakfasts, and have the opportunity to interact and have dialogue with a wide range of professional experts and local citizens.
Due to the initial uncertainties surrounding President Trump's announcement, we have extended the registration and deposit due date to August 1. Please visit our website to view the itinerary and addition information, and contact Samantha Hogenson with any questions and to register.
CREST is pleased to announce that we have hired Rich Shea to be our Director of Communications. Rich, a seasoned, award-winning communications and marketing professional, will officially begin work at CREST July 17. For the past 10 years, he’s focused on communications, by working for and helping nonprofits promote their missions and raise funds.
Rich was born and raised in central New Jersey, where, after graduating from Rutgers University, he kicked off a 20-year career in journalism, covering everything from local politics to arts-and-entertainment to K-12 education. The Washington, D.C. resident is also the father of two adult children, Aidan and Hannah, and has a passion for the arts, the outdoors, and travel. Over the past five years, he and his partner have traveled to 12 countries, including Turkey, Cambodia, and Vietnam, where the highlights of his visit were stays in two eco-lodges—in the Mekong and Sa Pa regions—which hire local residents and contribute to their communities.
The funds raised from CREST's quarterly travel auctions are vital to our work. The following responsibly-minded travel companies were featured in our April 18 – May 2 auction. We thank them for their belief in and support of CREST!
Bodhi Surf School*, Hacienda Santa Rosa, Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort, Island Outpost*, Kasbah du Toubkal*, Micato Safaris*, The Pavilions Himalayas, Playa Viva, Riad AnaYela, Star Island, and Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel.
*Indicates CREST Platinum Sponsorship
Our next auction will be September 12 – 26, via www.charitybuzz.com. If you represent an environmentally and socially responsible travel company and would like to promote your responsible brand while supporting CREST, please contact Samantha Hogenson at email@example.com to discuss your donated package.
CREST is thrilled to welcome Kasbah du Toubkal in Morocco, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, as our newest Platinum Sponsor. As a Platinum Sponsor, Kasbah du Toubkal has committed to donating a trip to a CREST fundraising auction each year through 2021. Learn more about our Platinum Sponsors program.
About the Kasbah: Kasbah du Toubkal is the number one property of choice for comfortable hotel accommodation in the village of Imlil and the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The Kasbah is just 60 kilometres from Marrakech and is in the Toubkal National Park, set dramatically below the towering flanks of Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. Imlil and its surrounding valleys are a world apart from the bustle of the city and a place of peace and seclusion. This unique, award-winning hotel offers fourteen comfortable en-suite rooms, three of which can be used as private self-contained houses. In addition, there are three family rooms. The delightful garden and large terraces offer unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains. Kasbah’s friendly and knowledgeable local Berber team will make every effort to ensure your stay is as enjoyable as it can be. Specially designed trekking packages including stays at Kasbah’s Trekking Lodge and the ascent of Mount Toubkal, which can include a riad or hotel stay in Marrakech as well as tailor-made tours around Morocco.
There is a shared belief that the beauty of the Toubkal National Park should be accessible to all who respect it. To this end, the Kasbah has been transformed using traditional methods, from the home of a feudal caïd (local baron), into an unprecedented haven with accommodation to suit all budgets.
The Kasbah du Toubkal is an extraordinary venture, the product of an imaginative Berber and European enterprise. It opened in 1995 and is run through a unique partnership with the local Berber community, with a five per cent levy included in guests’ accommodation bills being funneled back to the villagers. It is more of a Berber hospitality center than a traditional hotel, where the genuine friendliness, warmth, and hospitality are exceptional.
Read more about the history of the Kasbah and responsible practices here.
CREST is pleased to have recently welcomed the following highly-regarded individuals to our network of Academic Affiliates:
CREST partners with these Affiliates in a variety of ways, such as through priority internships for students, research studies, conference participation, publications, and study tours. Three Academic Affiliates, Jim Barborak (Colorado State University), Todd Comen (Johnson State College), and Michelle Rutty (Michigan State University), recently presented with CREST in the MARDELTUR 2017 sustainable development conference in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. Their presentations were on tourism in protected areas, agritourism, and climate change & tourism, respectively.
If you are an academic and interested in joining our Affiliates program, please contact Samantha Hogenson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No task was too big or too small for more than 50 volunteers at this year's CARE for the Cape & Islands Day held May 10, at Nobska Light in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. From washing windows, painting trim, clearing brush, and cleaning the "scary" basement, everyone stepped up to help with beautification and upkeep efforts of the historic Cape Cod lighthouse. The volunteers were greatly appreciated by the Friends of Nobska Light who, on behalf of the Town of Falmouth, assumed responsibility for the preservation and maintenance of the historic Nobska Light in 2014. It sits upon a bluff comprised of 2.5 acres overlooking Vineyard Sound.
A highlight of the event was a presentation of CARE’s 2017 Grants to Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance for their Pier Education Program, Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket Island for Trash to Treasure Upcycling of Marine Plastics, Coonamessett Farm Foundation for the Freshwater Mussel Education Project, Center for Coastal Studies for the Story of Spinnaker the Whale Entanglement exhibit, and to Provincetown Recycling & Renewal Energy for the installation of Sidewalk Buttlers, a receptacle for cigarette butts that are recycled.
CARE for the Cape & Islands is a Travelers' Philanthropy initiative on Cape Cod, directed by Jill Talladay. As a travelers’ philanthropy initiative, CARE seeks to encourage, support, and create opportunities for visitors and residents to donate their “time, talent, and treasure” to help preserve and protect the very things they enjoy about the Cape: exquisite natural beauty, plant and wildlife habitats, Cape & Islands culture and history. This is CARE's 5-year anniversary, and their local grant program and volunteer opportunities have had a tremendous positive impact on the natural and cultural-heritage landscapes of Cape Cod. CREST is the fiscal sponsor of CARE and could not be more proud of what CARE has accomplished.
The objective of CREST's internship program is to help inspire, involve, and educate young leaders to be active and effective members of the sustainable tourism development community. This summer we are proud to host a very diverse and bright group of students:
CREST is a licensed 501(c)3 in the District of Columbia. Want to help us to transform the way the world travels? Support our work here.