Center for Responsible Travel

Transforming the Way the World Travels

aka CREST   |   Washington, DC   |  www.responsibletravel.org

Mission

To promote responsible tourism policies and practices so that local communities may thrive and steward their cultural resources and biodiversity.

Ruling year info

2007

Executive Director

Dr. Gregory Miller

Main address

1225 I St. NW Suite 600

Washington, DC 20005 USA

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Formerly known as

Center for Ecotourism & Sustainable Development

EIN

52-2391916

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (S05)

Philanthropy / Charity / Voluntarism Promotion (General) (T50)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Responding to the Climate Crisis

The tourism industry has been on a path of self-destruction for decades, valuing profits at the expense of people, planet, and purpose. The result is clear: in 2018, tourism accounted for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That includes transport, shopping, food, and other tourism-supported industries.

Climate change also has real consequences for destination communities around the world, from lack of access to clean water supplies, increased natural disasters, erratic agricultural production, increased threat of poverty, political instability, damage to their natural environment, and even changes in traveler preferences.

However, 2020 proved that even stopping tourism is not enough to meet the demands of the climate crisis. The pandemic has highlighted the immense need and value of tourism to global and local supply chains, conservation, and cultural exchange.

Sustainable tourism provides an economic incentive for destinations to avoid extraction-based economies, providing employment while decreasing carbon-intensive practices such as mining, deforestation, and slash-and-burn agriculture.

As travel resumes post-COVID, we must focus on quality over quantity in tourism. In other words, value over volume. It is the quality of visitation, not the number of visitors that countries and destinations need to seek and measure, with an individual and societal commitment to a responsible recovery.

We advocate for a profound shift in the travel and tourism sector, with preparation and effective risk management, adaptation, and resilience, and decarbonization being fundamental to the industry’s future.

Why it matters:

Tourism is both a contributor to climate change and a victim of its impacts. Climate change mitigation and adaptation are not just about protecting the environment. It is also about protecting the communities in the destinations we all love and the tourism industry itself. Because tourism touches multiple industries, including transport, food production, retail, construction, a positive shift in the sector would have a major impact on economies around the globe.

Population(s) Served
Activists
Academics
Economically disadvantaged people

Biodiversity and cultural heritage are intrinsically linked and form the foundation upon which the needs of humanity are filled. In communities around the world, both cultural and natural heritage are at risk, often due to short-sighted tourism models. Sustainable tourism can play a critical role in conservation, protecting plant and animal life, and supporting communities to preserve their cultures, traditions, and livelihoods.

As stated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, [sustainable tourism] leads to the management of all resources in a manner that economic, social and aesthetic needs are fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biodiversity, and life support systems

Almost every project CREST takes on is rooted in biodiversity and cultural heritage in some capacity. It is essential that communities are at the heart of decision-making and have a right to determine how their cultural heritage is shared and biodiversity is conserved.

Why it matters:

Awe-inspiring biodiversity and unique cultures are what make our world a wonderful place to live – and what makes a place worth visiting. Together, they make up the distinctive character of a destination, or its sense of place. However, the way tourism has developed in the past several decades has put at risk, severely harmed, watered down, and, in some cases, decimated those very qualities. When the biodiversity and cultural heritage of a destination is eroded, not only is our planet harmed, so too is the competitive advantage for tourism. There is a better way. Thoughtful, strategic tourism planning and management can help protect and even enhance these unique aspects of place.

Population(s) Served
Work status and occupations
Social and economic status

In 2019, 1.4 billion tourists traveled internationally, more than ever before. The tourism industry and travel media began to refer to this phenomenon as “overtourism.”

CREST defines overtourism as "tourism that has moved beyond the limits of acceptable change in a destination due to quantity of visitors, resulting in degradation of the environment and infrastructure, diminished travel experience, wear and tear on built heritage, and/or negative impacts on residents.”

While tourists have flocked to popular destinations for decades, the recent emergence of this term demonstrates just how pressing this issue has become. In 2017 and 2018, Barcelona and Venice became the poster cities for overtourism when residents took to the streets, protesting cruise ships, Airbnb, and the unrelenting wave of city day-trippers.

This phenomenon spread globally, impacting national parks and protected areas, beaches and coastal communities, World Heritage Sites, and fragile historic cities.

But in 2020, the number of global international arrivals suffered a staggering drop to under 400 million. Although destinations around the world have fallen victim to overtourism, in the era of pandemics, political instability, and the powerful influence of social media, these destinations are just as prone to severe under-tourism. The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light that the problem is not just “too many tourists,” but how to manage tourism in a way that maximizes its benefits to people, the planet, and destinations sustainably.

The twin threats of overtourism and under-tourism have caused destination management solutions to emerge. Governments, tourism businesses, destination management organizations, non-profits, and others have put good tools to work to solve this issue. The solutions deal with transport, ticketing, creative use of technology, dispersal and diversification, strengthening responsible tourism, and visitor education.

Ultimately, destinations must proactively manage tourism. Sustainable tourism comes as a result of strategic planning with holistic stakeholder involvement, good management, and active monitoring of tourism’s impacts.

Why it matters:

Consider a place you love. Maybe it is the rural town you grew up in or the beach you visit with your family. Maybe it is the first national park you ever visited or a historic site that keeps your city thriving. Each of these places is likely dependent upon tourism, because of the conservation value it provides, the cultural heritage it protects, or the economic benefits it provides.

We need to look at tourism, one of the world’s largest industries, with the same rigor as other sectors that both help and harm our well-loved places. We must transform the way the world travels for these places – their landscapes, their historic sites, their wildlife, their cultures – to survive.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Academics
Economically disadvantaged people
Academics
Economically disadvantaged people
Academics

In 2019, tourism accounted for 1 in 10 jobs and 10 percent of GDP globally. However, despite the boom in tourism over the last decade, wealth is not equally distributed. The result is that many of these workers cannot afford to live near where they work.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, women make up 54 percent of those employed in the tourism industry yet earn 14.7 percent less than their tourism counterparts. Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) individuals make up the majority of those employed in the accommodation sector, yet studies show that racial and ethnic minorities remain inequitably dispersed throughout the workforce. This inequality is increasing: between 2008 to 2018, there was a near-stagnation or decline of wages for non-executives in the accommodation sector, while salaries for executives increased 37 percent in real terms.

When the pandemic hit, 100 to 200 million tourism jobs were at risk. Simultaneously, communities across the globe collectively called for unity and social justice for systemically marginalized groups. As tourism rebuilds to become the world’s largest service industry once again, the sector needs to build back more equitably. Tourism cannot be sustainable without fair income distribution, support for local businesses, and strong worker rights.

We advocate for a holistic approach to tourism that prioritizes the economic and social well-being of local communities. Tourism, when done right, can act as a driver of sustainable development in many communities.

Why it matters:

The first step to ensuring the long-term well-being of our most beloved places is by ensuring the welfare of their residents. By promoting community-based tourism and sustainable economic livelihoods, local communities will have the resources and incentives to preserve their own biodiversity and cultural heritage.

As our world struggles for economic stability and a more equitable, just society for all, we must examine how the tourism industry can further these goals. Through critical scrutiny of our current systems, we can reframe tourism in a way that better ensures equitable economic opportunity and prosperity for all.

Population(s) Served
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Work status and occupations

Where we work

Financials

Center for Responsible Travel
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Center for Responsible Travel

Board of directors
as of 4/14/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Michael Robbins

The Tourism Company

Alice Marshall

Alice Marshall Public Relations

Richard Bangs

Mountain Travel-Sobek

Eric Bergstrom

Bergstrom Capital Advisors, Inc.

Andrea Holbrook

Holbrook Travel

Andrea Pinabell

Southface

Ella Messerli

All Baja Solutions

Melissa Bradley

Indagare

Denaye Hinds

JustaTAAD Inc.

Jessica Blotter

Kind Traveler

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/14/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/14/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.