Paloma Zapata Announced as Judge for Inaugural Regenerative Travel Impact Awards

With the help of a group of esteemed judges, Regenerative Travel’s newest initiative will shine a light on projects and people driving change in the industry.

Sustainable Travel International is proud to announce that our CEO, Paloma Zapata, has been selected as one of the judges for the upcoming Regenerative Travel Impact Awards. With entries still open, these new awards work to continue the brand’s mission of highlighting initiatives dedicated to social and environmental impact, building community, and serve as a catalyst to encourage purposeful transformation within the travel industry and beyond.

Regenerative Travel will engage its network to help uncover inspiring examples of initiatives and individuals striving to create abundance for all – fostering a new dawn for travel that is non-extractive, immersive, inclusive, innovative and equitable. Paloma is part of a hand-selected judging panel recognised for their trailblazing dedication to regeneration in their respective fields. In alignment with Sustainable Travel International’s mission, Paloma has been selected to judge the sustainable destinations category. The thought leaders will carefully analyze eligible entries to create a definitive list of finalists that represent the highest standard of regenerative practices.  

Regenerative Travel is welcoming entries for these free-of-charge awards up until the 25th of June and as a brand that loves to celebrate and uplift other trailblazers, we encourage any relevant initiatives or individuals to submit an application here. After review by the judges, the shortlist will be announced on July 15. To drive public engagement a People’s Choice award will be open for voting thereafter until August 15. Overall winners within each category will be awarded at the 2021 Regenerative Travel Summit and championed across the brand’s platforms thereafter.


  • Regenerative Hotelier of the Year: Hotel owners or managers who are catalysts for change and are innovating hospitality to promote positive social and environmental impact.
  • Regenerative Travel Initiative of the Year: An initiative in the travel and tourism sector that has drawn attention to social and environmental issues, inspiring action
  • Regenerative Activist of the Year: A passionate campaigner recognised for their contributions to bring about social and environmental change
  • People’s Choice: Readers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite individual or project.
  • Conservation: Initiatives working to restore and regenerate ecosystems, biodiversity, or critical species.
  • Food and Agriculture: Ideas that restore food systems—improving food quality and availability, supporting farmers, and promoting healthy ecosystems.
  • Climate: Innovative ideas that bring greenhouse gas emissions to zero (and beyond) or uplift nature’s carbon cycle.
  • Education: Projects that deepen or broaden education’s impact, promoting equity and understanding.
  • Health and Wellness: Holistic and restorative approaches that promote well-being.
  • Community: Initiatives that promote equity and honour culture for vibrant, resilient communities.

Judges Featured

We are honored to introduce each of these respected judges, who have been meticulously chosen as experts and professionals in their respective fields for their experience and industry know-how.

  • Social Impact: Martinique Lewis, President of the Black Travel Alliance
  • Travel Media: Juliet Kinsman, Sustainability Editor at Conde Nast Traveller
  • Food and Agriculture: Anthony Myint, Chef, founder of ZeroFood Print
  • Marine Conservation: Lea d’Auriol, Founder of Oceanic Global
  • Sustainable Destinations: Paloma Zapata, Sustainable Tourism
  • Community Engagement: Api Movono, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies
  • Hospitality and Culture: Sheldon Scott, Director of Culture Eaton Workshop
  • Wildlife Conservation: Dr Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect



About Sustainable Travel International 

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and conserving our planet’s most vulnerable destinations. We are transforming tourism’s impact on nature and people by working alongside local communities, engaging travelers and businesses in responsible practices, and strengthening destination management. Through our work, we aim to safeguard nature, combat climate change, and empower communities to preserve the integrity of destinations around the globe. To learn more visit www.sustainabletravel.org.

About Regenerative Travel:

Regenerative Travel is a shared benefit corporation and booking platform providing marketing and hospitality services to a network of independently owned eco-luxury boutique hotels dedicated to the highest levels of social and environmental impact located in over 24 countries worldwide. Through sharing individual best practices and through collaboration, Regenerative Travel enables the Regenerative Resorts hotel collection to work together to achieve significant economies of scale and to make a deeper impact.

Media Contact: 

Kerry Skinner 


To Promote a Responsible Tourism Recovery, St. Kitts Relaunches Sustainability Charter Program

Local businesses are encouraged to sign up to participate in the program.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (20 April 2021) St. Kitts is relaunching its Heart of St. Kitts Sustainability Charter program in an effort to promote a responsible restart of tourism on the island. The Sustainability Charter provides a framework of best practices for the local tourism industry and is led by the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council in partnership with the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism. 

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to update the program which was originally developed in 2017. Over the past few months, the Charter was revised with support from the global NGO Sustainable Travel International and input from more than 30 local businesses. The Charter outlines key areas of sustainability, such as waste management and community development, and lists concrete actions that businesses can take to improve their performance within each. The revised Charter addresses new best practices and pressing issues – such as the climate crisis, equity and inclusion, and health and safety – to pave the way for a sustainable recovery of tourism. The program was also expanded to offer more robust benefits and resources for participating businesses that will help them implement sustainability practices and showcase their unique sustainability story.

St. Kitts and Nevis is one of the most tourism dependent nations in the world: in 2019, the industry directly contributed over 25% of the country’s GDP and employed one in four residents. As the island gradually reopens its borders to tourists, St. Kitts’ is focused on bolstering its resilience to future disruptions by enhancing the sustainability of its tourism industry.

“Visitors come from all over the world to explore our island’s natural beauty and immerse themselves in our vibrant Kittitian culture. The success of our tourism industry depends on the quality and authenticity of the visitor experience.” said Diannille Taylor-Williams, Chairperson of the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (SDC). “Going forward, we must prioritize sustainable tourism practices that preserve the integrity of our beaches, waters, heritage sites, cultural traditions, and other tourism assets. In doing so we can strengthen the competitiveness of our beautiful destination, ensure the prosperity of our tourism industry, and augment community satisfaction.” 

“In recent years, we’ve witnessed a shift in consumer preferences and an increasing demand for responsible travel experiences.” said Paloma Zapata, CEO of Sustainable Travel International. “By participating in the Sustainability Charter, and strengthening their sustainability practices, businesses can cater to this expanding market of conscious travelers. At the same time, this commitment to sustainability will preserve the natural and cultural resources their business depends on and improve the quality of life for all residents.”  

Tourism businesses of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to sign on to the Sustainability Charter, including but not limited to hotels, tour operators, transport providers, attractions, vendors, and food and beverage providers. To date, more than five businesses have signed on to the revised Sustainability Charter, including: Ital Creations, Blue Water Safaris Limited, Creative Cultured Creations (3Cs), Digital Print Plus and St. Kitts Eco-Park.

More information about the Heart of St. Kitts Sustainability Charter is available here. To get involved or learn more, please contact info@heartofstkitts.org


Media Contact

Diannille Taylor-Williams

St Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (Ministry of Tourism)


St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council

The St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council is a cross-sector body that consists of representatives from government agencies and sustainable tourism-related enterprises, as well as other like-minded individuals or organisations. We facilitate collaboration around sustainable tourism to ensure that development preserves and benefits St. Kitts’ environments, cultural heritage, and community livelihoods. Together, we are working towards a future where community members actively contribute to destination health, while promoting the island’s distinctive identity. 

Sustainable Travel International 

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and conserving our planet’s most vulnerable destinations. We are transforming tourism’s impact on nature and people by working alongside local communities, engaging travelers and businesses in responsible practices, and strengthening destination management. Through our work, we aim to safeguard nature, combat climate change, and empower communities to preserve the integrity of destinations around the globe. Sustainable Travel International has implemented sustainability projects in more than 100 destinations around the world and has partnered with the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism to advance sustainable tourism on the island since 2012. To learn more visit www.sustainabletravel.org

Explore our work in St. Kitts

Project to Make Palau a Carbon Neutral Destination Launched by Palau Bureau of Tourism, Sustainable Travel International, and Slow Food

The project will combat tourism’s carbon footprint by working with local food producers and launching a carbon platform for tourists

PALAU (August 11, 2020) The Palau Bureau of Tourism, Sustainable Travel International, and Slow Food have launched a new project in Palau that aims to mitigate the tourism sector’s carbon footprint and establish Palau as the world’s first “Carbon Neutral Tourism Destination.” The project is taking an innovative destination-level approach that includes promoting local food production within tourism and developing a carbon management program for tourists. This project supports the objectives of the Coalition of Fragile Ecosystems (COFE) and International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) and has been endorsed by various government agencies, including Palau’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism; Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs; Ministry of Education; the Our Oceans 2020 Organizing Committee; and the Office of the President.

Known for its unspoiled natural beauty and pristine seas, the Pacific Island nation of Palau is regarded as one of the top marine tourism destinations in the world. Last year, more than 89,000 international tourists visited the country, which has a population of just under 22,000. As such, tourism represents the islands’ main source of economic income and employment. 

As a small island destination, Palau is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which threaten the islands’ marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and tourism industry. While tourism is the economic lifeblood of the island, it also contributes to the climate crisis. Tourists are responsible for a significant portion of Palau’s carbon footprint as they travel to the remote island by plane and consume food imported from overseas. 

In recent years, Palau has taken extensive measures to further environmental protection and responsible tourism. This includes establishing one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries; creating the world’s first mandatory eco-pledge (Palau Pledge) that all visitors are required to sign upon entry; banning tour operators from utilizing single-use plastics and styrofoam; and protecting its marine environment through the adoption of the world’s strictest national sunscreen standard. This bold new initiative, which is being led by Sustainable Travel International, builds upon the country’s past efforts to specifically address the tourism sector’s climate impact. 

This project will reduce the carbon footprint of tourism in Palau by increasing the proportion of food that is sourced from local producers and reducing the industry’s dependence on imports. Among other activities, the project will accomplish this by celebrating the islands’ gastronomic heritage and building the capacity of farmers and fishers to market their products to tourists. Along with combating climate change, this will create income-generating opportunities for local communities and improve food security on the islands. A specific emphasis will be placed on sustainable production and empowering women producers to participate in the tourism value chain.  

To compensate for tourism’s unavoidable emissions, the project will develop a first-of-its-kind carbon management program for tourists to Palau. The new online platform will allow visitors to calculate and offset the carbon footprint associated with their trip, including both their travel to and activities in Palau. In line with Palau’s leadership in marine conservation, the offset contributions will be invested in blue carbon initiatives, such as mangrove restoration, or sustainable production activities in the region that reduce CO2 emissions. It is estimated that this program has the potential to raise over USD $1 million a year for these carbon reduction initiatives. 

“If the current COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we must strengthen our nation’s resilience to external threats – the greatest of which is climate change,” said Kevin Mesebeluu, Director of the Palau Bureau of Tourism. “Palau is blessed with some of the world’s most pristine natural resources, inherited through culture and tradition, and placed in our trust for the future generation. We must work to actively protect them, while also investing in our people. Palau embraces sustainable tourism as the only path forward in the new era of travel, and we believe that our destination can and must be carbon neutral.”

“This project has enormous potential to transform the traditional tourism model and is a notable step towards lessening the industry’s climate impact. Destinations around the world face these same challenges of balancing tourism growth with environmental protection. Carbon neutrality is the future of tourism and the direction that all destinations must head as they recover from COVID-19. We commend Palau for their continued leadership, and hope this inspires other destinations to strengthen their own climate resilience strategies,” said Paloma Zapata, CEO of Sustainable Travel International.

“The rapid growth of an unsustainable tourist industry based on broken food systems has been a key driver of the climate crisis and ecosystem destruction. This project represents the antithesis, a solution that strives to strengthen and restore value to local food systems, reduce the cultural and environmental damage caused by food imports, and improve the livelihoods of food producers both in Palau and beyond,” said Paolo di Croce, General Secretary of Slow Food International.

For more information on this project, please contact Kaitlyn Brajcich at kaitlynb@sustainabletravel.org. Project updates will be shared regularly on www.sustainabletravel.org.  


Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and conserving our planet’s most vulnerable destinations. We are transforming tourism’s impact on nature and people by working alongside local communities, engaging travelers and businesses in responsible practices, and strengthening destination management. Through our work, we aim to safeguard nature, combat climate change, and empower communities to preserve the integrity of destinations around the globe. Sustainable Travel International has implemented sustainability projects in more than 100 destinations around the world, and has 10+ years of experience facilitating carbon management in tourism. To learn more visit www.sustainabletravel.org

Palau Bureau of Tourism

The Bureau of Tourism (BOT) was created in 2014 to regulate the tourism industry, provide policy guidance to the President, and to be the destination management office of the Republic of Palau. In line with this mandate, BOT has promulgated national tour operator regulations, adopted a groundbreaking regulatory approach to sunscreen based on the precautionary principle, developed a unique Public Private Partnership with every private boat owner engaged in tourism transportation, and weeded out front businesses. Palau’s Responsible Tourism Policy Framework guides BOT by defining the vision for the tourism sector in Palau, that of a sustainable, high value, and low impact visitor industry. 

Slow Food

Slow Food is a worldwide network of local communities founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions and to promote sustainable food systems. Since then Slow Food has grown to become a global movement that involves millions of people in more than 160 countries, all working to ensure that everyone has access to food that is good, clean and fair. The organization has a long-standing experience of implementing grassroots projects in collaboration with UN agencies.

International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF)

The International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) is dedicated to boosting socio-economic development, enhancing human resources and promoting economic relations in a range of developing partner countries. TaiwanICDF also offers humanitarian assistance and provides aid in the event of natural disasters or an international refugee crises. Its work is tailor-made to the local needs of each partner country. TaiwanICDF’s assistance covers a variety of contemporary development issues such as environment, public health, agriculture, education, and information and communications technology. The TaiwanICDF is headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. It has more than 100 domestic employees and 250 staff, volunteers, and madarin teachers working at overseas missions.

Coalition for Fragile Ecosystems (COFE)

The Coalition for Fragile Ecosystems is a young global alliance created by the UN Mountain Partnership and the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), focusing on the synergy between sustainable tourism and sustainable food systems as a vehicle for change. COFE aims to create an international network of fragile ecosystems that promotes sustainable tourism and sustainable food systems for increased resilience and improved livelihoods in mountains and islands. This effort by Palau is an important foundation activity that will help demonstrate what is possible in mountains and islands.

Future of Tourism

Global Tourism Organizations Unite to Create Coalition for the Future of Tourism

Six non-governmental organizations call for a rebalance in tourism as the sector recovers from COVID-19 

SEATTLE, WA – 16 June 2020 – Six organizations have come together for the first time to form The Future of Tourism Coalition with the global mission to place destinations at the center of recovery strategies  – the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), Destination Stewardship Center, Green Destinations, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares, and the Travel Foundation, with the guidance of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). 

Decades of unfettered growth in travel have put the world’s treasured places at risk – environmentally, culturally, socially, and financially.  The travel and tourism industries face a precarious and uncertain future due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, with international tourist numbers projected to fall 60-80% in 2020. As tourism moves forward and recovers, re-centering around a strong set of principles is vital for long term sustainable and equitable growth.

To rally global change, the Coalition has put forth Guiding Principles that outline a bold vision for tourism’s path forward and is calling on tourism agencies, travel companies, governments, investors, non-governmental organizations, and destination communities to commit to them.

Twenty-two founding signatories who represent a diverse cross-section of key industry stakeholders have committed thus far. They are influencers in the movement, demonstrating leadership and adherence to the Guiding Principles in their product and business practices. They will provide guidance to the Coalition as plans are put in place to support travel and tourism entities long-term in their strategy to place destinations and communities at the core of their work. Those signatories include Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Ecotourism Australia, G Adventures, Global Ecotourism Network, Government of the Azores, Government of Colombia, Hilton, Innovation Norway, Intrepid Travel, Jordan Tourism Board, Lindblad Expeditions, MT Sobek, Palau Bureau of Tourism, Riverwind Foundation (Jackson Hole, WY), Slovenian Tourist Board, Swisscontact, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, The Travel Corporation, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Tourism Council Bhutan and the World Wildlife Fund.

Interested travel and tourism stakeholders are invited to show their support and become part of the movement by joining as signatories. Visit www.futureoftourism.org.

The Guiding Principles provide a clear moral and business imperative for building a healthier tourism industry while protecting the places and people on which it depends. Those Principles call for signatories to:

  1. See the whole picture
  2. Use sustainability standards 
  3. Collaborate in destination management
  4. Choose quality over quantity
  5. Demand fair income distribution
  6. Reduce tourism’s burden
  7. Redefine economic success
  8. Mitigate climate impacts
  9. Close the loop on resources 
  10. Contain tourism’s land use
  11. Diversify source markets
  12. Protect sense of place
  13. Operate business responsibly

The foundation of these principles was built on a firm belief that taking a holistic approach to responsible and sustainable tourism is the only way to secure the future the Coalition stands for. 

“The recent crisis in tourism has shown us just how much tourism relies and depends on local and global communities,” said Maja Pak, Director at the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB). “We have already strengthened ties with local communities and tourism authorities from across the country. We now find that sharing our experiences and gaining best practice examples from other countries will be the key to successfully navigate the post-corona tourism universe. This is where the role of the Future of Tourism Coalition will be vital. The STB is looking forward to cooperating with the Coalition and to progress further with the reset of tourism, especially in this new reality, where sustainability and destination needs, as well as trust, will have to be placed at the center of tourism’s future.”

The Coalition recognizes that a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is fundamental to achieving its Guiding Principles. The travel and tourism industry has much work to do, and the Coalition will act with intentionality in addressing the role that racial and environmental justice play in creating a more equitable tourism economy. The Coalition members have made a commitment to listen, learn, and seek change by engaging with signatories and other entities as a part of that journey, and this work will be guided by GSTC indicators and criteria related to equity, inclusion, and non-discrimination. 

In a joint statement, the CEOs of the organizations represented in the Coalition said, “It is imperative that every organization evaluates how they will actively place the needs of destinations and equity within their communities at the center of tourism development, management, and promotion decisions. There is no stable future for tourism if this is not done now – together, responsibly, and vigorously. This is not a short-term effort, this is the future. Long-term resilient social, economic, and environmental recovery and regeneration will require all sectors of industry to rethink how tourism works, who it works for, and how success is defined.”

The path to change is a journey and lasting solutions take time. The Coalition will support the industry by providing the tools, guidance and collaboration to ensure a stronger path forward and encourage a diverse and inclusive set of signatories to sign on and share their perspectives and experiences to collectively work toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable future for all. For more information, visit www.futureoftourism.org 

# # #

Future of Tourism Coalition Logo

The Future of Tourism Coalition is a collaborative effort to chart a new, more sustainable direction for tourism and shift the status quo. The Coalition is comprised of six non-governmental organizations, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), Destination Stewardship Center, Green Destinations, Sustainable Travel International, Tourism Cares, and the Travel Foundation, with the guidance of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), that stand united in an appeal for change. The Coalition is pursuing a shared global mission: to place destination needs at the center of tourism’s new future. Through commitment of their Guiding Principles, the greater travel industry and destination agencies can align around a path forward for a more sustainable future for tourism. For more information, visit www.futureoftourism.org 

Media Contacts: 


Ben Lynam, The Travel Foundation: 07866 155700 / ben.lynam@thetravelfoundation.org.uk


Roi Ariel, GSTC: roi@gstcouncil.org 


Jessica Flores, Tourism Cares: +1-781-821-5990 x212 / jessica.flores@tourismcares.org

Dietl International Offsets 644 Tonnes Of CO2 After Moving 167 Tonnes Of Air Freight For The Art Basel Exhibition In Miami

Los Angeles, USA, Wednesday 18th December – Dietl International, one of the largest fine arts logistics houses and a Rock-it Cargo company, has taken a leading position in the art logistics community by offsetting the environmental impact of transporting air cargo to this month’s Art Basel exhibition in Miami, Florida.

Dietl International shipped a total of 167 metric tonnes (368,172 pounds) of artworks by air to the show, including a Cargolux charter between Luxembourg and Miami, which carried artwork from galleries in Germany, Switzerland, France, and the United Kingdom.

The move generated 644 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, for which Dietl has purchased carbon offsets in support of the JARI AMAPA REDD project in Brazil, which aims to protect a large area of forest in the Valley of Jari, home to over 2000 animal species and provide economic opportunities for over 2000 families living there.

Dietl International has sponsored the entire incoming air freight offset and has challenged its clients and other galleries to participate with contributions of their own as the artwork is shipped back from the show.

“In the art world, this has become a hot topic,” said Fritz Deitl, President of New York-headquartered Dietl International.

“However, for it to work, we need to be able to offer cost-effective green solutions.

“Galleries have such small profit margins that it has to make sense for them, or they won’t buy in.”

“When companies partner with Dietl or any of our other Rock-it companies, they now have the option of investing in third-party certified carbon reduction projects that combat climate change,” said Rock-it Cargo President Paul J. Martins.

“In addition to reducing emissions, these projects help protect forests and the biodiversity within and create opportunities for communities to better their livelihoods and health”.

Dietl International also coordinated the movement and importation of a number of ocean containers and organized climate-controlled, high-cube art trailers for US domestic shippers and was responsible for transporting close to half of the artwork viewed at the event.

“There is no single formula for success in a move so elaborate,” shares Jason Losh, Director of Business Development at Dietl International.

“The key to succeeding is handling every single item as an individual shipment; a single chance to engage an extreme measure of specialization to ensure the pristine arrival of priceless works of art.”

Art Basel takes place annually in Miami Beach, Florida; Basel, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.

This year’s four day Miami event included contemporary media featuring art from over 250 participating galleries in the United States, Central and South America, Europe, and Asia.

Dietl International withheld announcing its carbon offset purchase until the details had been finalized with the company’s partner, Sustainable Travel International.

Carbon credits, often called carbon offsets, are available for businesses to offset their emissions by helping to direct capital toward projects that reduce carbon dioxide by capturing/storing existing CO2 or preventing new emissions from happening.

Projects may also provide benefits that go beyond carbon reduction, such as protecting forests and the biodiversity within, or creating opportunities for communities to better their livelihoods and health.

One carbon credit is equal to one metric tonne of carbon.


For a plain text version of the press release, and to download high resolution images, click here.

Media Contact

Meantime Communications

Justin Burns

Tel: +44 (0)20 8853 5554


Visit Meantime Communications

About Dietl International

Dietl International began as a two-person office in 1991 at JFK airport in New York and is today the largest logistics provider in the United States devoted entirely to the special needs and requirements of shipping artwork. With ten locations throughout the United States, Dietl International now has ninety-five employees dedicated to the safe transportation and handling of valuable works of art.

Fritz Dietl is a founder and board member of a leading art handling, crating, and storage provider in New York state that manages over 150,000 square feet of art space. He also owns and operates the Delaware Freeport, providing 100,000 square feet of cost-effective, high-security, museum-quality art storage for the region. 

About Rock-it Cargo

Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, and founded in 1978, Rock-it Cargo (“Rock-it”) is a provider of high-touch, mission-critical air, ocean and surface freight forwarding and logistics to the live entertainment and music touring, fine arts, sports and broadcasting, corporate events, industrial power projects, and humanitarian relief end markets through its family of six affiliated leading brands (including but not limited to, Rock-it Cargo, Dietl, Sound Moves, Cargo Live and Waiver).  

With 32 owned offices in 12 countries and a network of long-standing partner agents, Rock-it provides global services to the more than 190 countries. Rock-it is backed by ATL Partners private equity capital.  

ATL investment professionals and the members of its Executive Board, all of whom are accomplished senior executives in the focus sectors of Aerospace, Transportation and Logistics, provide Rock-it the perfect partner to continue the company’s strong growth trajectory.

To find out more visit www.rockitcargo.com

About Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and conserving our planet’s most vulnerable destinations. We are transforming tourism’s impact on nature and people by working alongside local communities, engaging travelers and businesses in responsible practices, and strengthening destination management. Through our work, we aim to safeguard nature, combat climate change, and empower communities to preserve the integrity of destinations around the globe. To learn more visit www.sustainabletravel.org

Diver and diseased coral on the Mesoamerican Reef

Divers and snorkelers can fight coral disease on the Mesoamerican Reef by sharing #SupportNEMO photos

Sustainable Travel International launches a social media campaign that empowers visitors to play a role in monitoring and conserving the Mesoamerican Reef by sharing photos of the coral, pollution, and marine life they see while exploring the reef

COZUMEL, MEXICO (October 22, 2019) – The nonprofit Sustainable Travel International is launching its #SupportNEMO social media campaign to fight a mysterious coral disease that is ravaging the Mesoamerican Reef. The campaign takes an innovative, citizen-powered approach to reef conservation by engaging divers, snorkelers, and other visitors in monitoring the disease by sharing photos of what they see while exploring the reef. 

The #SupportNEMO campaign is the first phase of Sustainable Travel International’s larger NEMO (Natural Environment Marine Observers) program which aims to reduce human impacts on the Mesoamerican Reef and empower visitors to more actively protect it by:

  1. Raising community awareness about the reef and how to conserve it  
  2. Collecting monitoring data for marine scientists on reef health and threats;
  3. Informing and funding response expeditions to eradicate threats and keep the reef healthy

The “White Syndrome” Coral Disease

The Mesoamerican Reef is the world’s second largest reef system, stretching over 600 miles (1000+ kilometers) from Mexico to Honduras. Every year, more than 16 million people visit the Mesoamerican Reef, many of whom participate in reef-based activities such as diving and snorkeling. While tourism to the reef provides valuable economic benefits and supports nearly 2 million livelihoods, it also creates harmful impacts, such as pollution and physical damage, that endanger the fragile ecosystem. 

In June 2018, scientists discovered a coral disease outbreak, known locally as “Síndrome Blanco” (White Syndrome) that is killing over 20 coral species and spreading rapidly across the Mesoamerican Reef.  In just a matter of weeks, the disease can destroy entire coral structures, some of which took hundreds of years to grow. While the cause of the outbreak is still unknown, scientists believe that it may be due to poor water quality and that it is the same as the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) that has affected over half of the Florida Reef Tract and spread to the Caribbean. 

“The Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) spreads incredibly fast and has a very high mortality rate. For the more than 20 coral species afflicted by this disease, the amount of coral lost in the first six months of the outbreak alone, is equivalent to the amount that was lost over the previous 40 years,” said Dr. Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, Principal Researcher at the Biodiversity and Reef Conservation (BARCO) Lab at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “We need all the support we can get to monitor this disease in order to minimize further damage.”

How to Participate in the #SupportNEMO Campaign

The #SupportNEMO campaign offers divers, snorkelers, and other visitors to the Mesoamerican Reef a way to collect monitoring data that will help scientists protect the reef. While on the reef, individuals are asked to keep an eye out for coral that may be infected with the disease by looking for colonies that have white bands, spots, or lesions. Guidance on how to spot the disease is available here.

To participate, visitors should post their photos of the reef to Instagram using the #SupportNEMO hashtag and include the location (GPS coordinates or dive site) and date the photo was taken. In addition to posting photos of the coral disease, visitors are also encouraged to share photos of marine pollution, as well as any wildlife they see. 

Photos contributed to the #SupportNEMO campaign will be analyzed by the NEMO Reef Response Team, a collaborative response taskforce comprised of marine scientists and conservationists from CONANP (Mexican Marine Park Authority), Healthy Reefs Initiative, and BARCO LAB. The photos will help scientists to better understand the disease and track where it’s spreading so that they can develop and test treatments, reduce pollution, identify ways to prevent the disease from spreading, and begin restoration efforts. 

$40K in 40 Days to Expand NEMO and Transform Conservation

In tandem with the #SupportNEMO campaign, Sustainable Travel International is launching an ambitious crowdfunding campaign with a goal of raising $40K in 40 days – the length of time it can take an entire coral colony to be killed by the disease. The campaign will enable people all across the globe to support the expansion of the NEMO Program by making a donation at http://bit.ly/40days4reef. Funds raised will be used to:

  • Develop a NEMO citizen-science web application so that anyone can easily submit their photos and scientists can map and analyze data 
  • Educate local communities about reef conservation and get more people involved in NEMO
  • Fund expeditions by the Response Team to fight the disease and keep the reef healthy

For more information about the campaigns or the NEMO program as a whole, please contact kaitlynb@sustainabletravel.org or visit SupportNEMO.com or sustainabletravel.org.


Media Contact:

Kaitlyn Brajcich

Sustainable Travel International


About Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and conserving our planet’s most vulnerable destinations. We are transforming tourism’s impact on nature and people by working alongside local communities, engaging travelers and businesses in responsible practices, and strengthening destination management. Through our work, we aim to safeguard nature, combat climate change, and empower communities to preserve the integrity of destinations around the globe. To learn more visit www.sustainabletravel.org

About Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative

Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) is a globally unique international collaborative program of coral reef-focused research, management and conservation organizations dedicated to safeguarding the Mesoamerican Reef. Our vision is to improve our scientific understanding of the functioning of the MAR, and enhance its health through management interventions. HRI has engaged over 70 key marine conservation, government, and private sector institutions, coordinating the latest scientific information into management efforts, thereby improving the collective success of all of these important conservation programs. Through our proven and effective use of the media, we are creating a more informed, powerful and dynamic stakeholder base for reef conservation in the MAR. http://www.healthyreefs.org/


BARC LAB is a dynamic group with passionate interest in ecology and biodiversity conservation. We focus on three main areas of research: (1) describing on-going ecological shifts on reef ecosystems resulting from environmental and climate change, (2) investigating the role of ecological processes such as herbivory and coral recruitment on ecosystem dynamics, and (3) understanding the consequences of reef degradation to biodiversity and humans. We believe that one of the greatest challenges of today is biodiversity and ecosystem conservation and we are increasingly interested in providing fundamental ecological insights while producing policy-relevant science. www.barcolab.org


The Mexican National Protected Area Commission (CONANP) works to conserve the natural heritage of Mexico and the ecological processes of 182 Natural Protected Areas (ANP), bringing together conservation goals with goals to protect the well-being of local populations and visitors to these areas. Throughout 19 years of operation, CONANP has driven multiple conservation initiatives and strengthened the sustainable management of the biodiversity found in ANP’s. www.gob.mx/conanp