Did you know that tourism is the largest service industry in the world? Tourism accounts for one in every 11 jobs globally and 10% of world GDP. There is both tremendous privilege and responsibility in working in the tourism industry. As reaffirmed by the United Nations during 2017’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, responsibly planned and operated tourism offers the opportunity for:
- Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
- Social inclusiveness, employment, and poverty reduction
- Resource efficiency, environmental protection, and climate change adaptation and mitigation
- Respect for cultural values, diversity, and heritage
- Mutual understanding, peace, and security.
Alternatively, poorly planned tourism that does not steward the environmental, social, cultural, and economic nuances of place can have the opposite effect.
The importance of promoting responsible travel
In 2018, our nonprofit, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), celebrates our 15th year of working with destinations, companies, development agencies, community organizations, and academia around the world to help maximize positive benefits and minimize the negative. Our mission is to promote responsible tourism policies and practices so that local communities may thrive and steward their cultural resources and biodiversity. We work all over the world, with an overall emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean. Learn more about our recent work by subscribing to our newsletter on the bottom of our homepage.
Now more than ever, tourism is a critical tool for understanding one another and preserving and protecting our fragile places and cultures. But as you can imagine, in the current climate of unrest and knowing the tremendous needs on many levels around the world, out-of-the-box work like ours is not always the first funded when it comes to donations or allocated funding.
Bodhi Surf + Yoga’s partnership with CREST
This is where generous socially and environmentally travel companies like Bodhi Surf + Yoga come in. Over the past four years, Bodhi Surf + Yoga has generously donated a their signature Bodhi Sessions surf + yoga camp for two to the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST)’s Spring Travel Auction. These auctions provide funding so that we may continue this work. Over the past several, years, donations like these have allowed us to do the following:
- Host 37 student interns who are interested in careers in responsible travel
- Begin our Academic Affiliates program
- Produce our annual meta-analysis “The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics”
- Present our research at a wide-range of conferences to advance knowledge of global knowledge of responsible travel
- Host several of our own conferences on tourism’s impacts, innovation in coastal & marine tourism, and travelers’ philanthropy
- Produce four books on climate change and coastal & marine tourism in the Caribbean (to which Bodhi contributed a case study to show what they are doing on the Pacific side)
- Produce three films on travelers’ philanthropy, mass vs. ecotourism impacts in Costa Rica, and responsible travel options in the Caribbean. The list goes on.
How other tourism companies can help
We only invite companies that are walking the responsible tourism walk, not just talking the talking the talk to be a part of our auctions. Even among the over 300 responsibly-minded hotels and tour operators we have worked with around the world, Bodhi Surf + Yoga stands out as exemplary. The Bodhi team is truly committed to the community of Uvita, the Osa, and greater Costa Rica. They work hard to provide educational – and fun – opportunities for locals and visitors alike. They are constantly working to bring their stewardship efforts to the next level, exploring innovative technologies, trying new communications techniques, and creating partnerships. When asked about what companies are leading the charge when it comes to making true change for a more sustainable world, Bodhi is always among the first examples we list, and we try to facilitate connections for learning from Bodhi at any applicable time.
It is my honor personally to serve on Bodhi Surf + Yoga’s Advisory “Surf Board,” and I can’t wait to see what is next for this inspiring, driven, B Corp certified impact organization.
Written by Samantha Bray, Managing Director at CREST