Travel is the world's largest economic sector. How big? Today, tourism generates over $1.6 trillion in export earnings a year. It ranks third worldwide in exports and is the top export category in many countries. The number of people traveling overseas has jumped exponentially: 53-fold since 1950. In 2012, for the first time in history, international tourist arrivals topped 1 billion, and that figure is expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.
Travel has the power to do enormous harm to the most beautiful and culturally rich parts of our planet, degrading even its most remote areas quickly and irreparably. But, properly managed, it can do just the opposite.
And yet, there is a dearth of insightful research to assist travelers and decision makers in the responsible development of this huge, widely-scattered industry. When tourism development is responsibly managed to incorporate sustainable best practices, it has the power to bring employment and conservation to areas that otherwise fall prey to clear-cut logging, mining, industrial agriculture, and illegal trade and traffic.
Founded in 2003, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) was created to counter this deficiency in meaningful analysis and data and to steward responsible tourism with innovative research, field projects, consultancies, conferences, courses, publications, and documentary films. CREST is a leading expert on the full range of tourism models, from small-scale community-based and indigenous tourism to large coastal resort and cruise tourism.
A one-of-a-kind nonprofit organization, CREST assists governments, development agencies, local communities, policy makers, tourism businesses, and international agencies in finding solutions to critical issues confronting tourism.
CREST believes travel, done right, should be a force for preserving environments and cultures and building sustainable communities. Specifically, responsible tourism can:
Alleviate Poverty – Supporting self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship in communities through tourism;
Conserve Bio-Diversity – Promoting positive environmental footprints through travel;
Protect Cultures – Directly engaging tourists in preserving and experiencing authentic peoples and places.
In this era of climate change, overtourism, and growing economic disparity, responsible travel is not a choice; it’s an imperative. To learn more about CREST’s work to transform the way the world travels, visit www.responsibletravel.org.