Prompted by recent shifts in U.S. policy toward Cuba - including the establishment, in early November 2017, of regulations tightening travel restrictions and business transactions - CREST and roughly two dozen other U.S. commercial and academic travel-service providers and NGOs recently formed a coalition. Its purpose is to: a) assess the impacts the Trump administration's actions are having on U.S. tour operators, universities, and others involved in educational travel to Cuba; b) publicize the benefits of "people-to-people"; travel to Cuba for both U.S. travelers and Cuban hosts; c) examine legal and other means of opposing the Trump administration's Cuba policies; and d) make the case for normalizing U.S. travel and educational exchanges with Cuba. The coalition kicked off its efforts Oct. 25, 2017, with a press conference in Washington, D.C., aboard a 130-foot schooner setting sail for an educational voyage to Cienfuegos, but many other actions are planned.
CREST's sustainable tourism work in Cuba has developed steadily in 2016 and 2017, with support from the Ford and Reynolds Foundations. As one piece of its work, CREST is undertaking a study of ‘lessons learned’ about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of cruise tourism elsewhere in the Caribbean and in key Mediterranean ports of call to help with decision making. CREST also helped to organize an educational conference on sustainable tourism at the University of Pinal del Rio in 2017.
CREST has embarked on an initiative to launch an updated "2.0" version of the SIFT (Sustainable Investment and Finance in Tourism) Network. The goal is to establish mechanisms to channel financial support into sustainable tourism projects by creating a ‘one stop shop' network of public and private institutions interested in investing in sustainable tourism and to create a fund with the capacity to invest in energy and water efficiency upgrades for accommodations. The first steps include developing a business plan for the SIFT enterprise and systematically exploring financial and operational partners as well as potential clients, with a primary focus on the hotel sector in the Caribbean.
In Ethiopia, CREST is assisting the Tigrai Culture and Tourism Bureau to preserve and protect the famed 11th - 14th century rock-hewn churches, located in the Gheralta region. Two CREST experts, one on rock structure and another on rock painting, are working with local teams on protection plans, to culminate with preparing nomination documents for UNESCO World Heritage Status.
In Chihuahua, CREST is working with local partners on a four-year project funded by the Christensen Foundation, which is designed to protect bio-cultural diversity in the Sierra Tarahumara around Creel and the Copper Canyon (Divisadero). Thriving authentic indigenous tourism will increase revenue and jobs and offer an incentive to the Rarámuri people to preserve their lands, wildlife, and customs.
In April 2017, CREST released two volumes entitled Coastal Tourism, Sustainability, and Climate Change in the Caribbean. Volume I is focused on Hotels and Beaches, and Volume II on Supporting Activities: Golf, Sustainable Food Sourcing, and AIrlines & Airports. The volumes contain essays and case studies by 33 different experts that look at how various tourism sectors both contribute to and are impacted by climate change. The twin volumes also highlight innovative tourism businesses that are providing solutions to addressing climate change. Two additional companion volumes on marine tourism will be published shortly. Image courtesy of CARIBSAVE.
The newest CREST documentary shows that the Caribbean is more than traditional large resort and cruise tourism. Through the power of the good example, this 45-minute film includes portraits of tourism businesses in Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Grenada that are practicing environmental stewardship and generating social and economic benefits for the destinations. Filmed by Jamaican filmmaker Esther Figueroa and edited and co-produced by Richard Krantz and Pilot Productions, the film was released in April 2016. Please let us know if you are interested in scheduling a viewing.