Working with community leaders in Bhutan on a sustainable tourism development plan
for the country. Costas has additionally served as an advisor to the Bhutan Royal Family.
With a dynamic career spanning decades, Costas has gained many titles: Ecotourism Pioneer, Sustainable Tourism Visionary, Award-Winning National Geographic Travel Writer - to name a few - and his life’s work has helped shape the world of travel and tourism as we know it today.
As a Harvard University wildlife field researcher in Kenya when he was a college student, long before the concept of ecotourism was established, Costas was struck by the inequality he witnessed between the safari tourism industry, underfunded national parks tasked with protecting some of the world’s rarest species, and impoverished local villagers. On contemplative nights around the campfire at his research outpost in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, he began to imagine a different model for tourism - one in which the travel industry would help protect endangered species, preserve cultural heritage and support community development.
Costas as a Harvard University primate researcher in Kenya during the late 1970s, when he developed the early ideas that would help ignite a global ecotourism movement connecting travel and conservation.
It was this thinking that set him on a new journey. In 1991, Costas and a dozen like-minded thinkers from around the globe gathered to officially define ecotourism for the first time as “responsible travel to natural areas that protects nature and sustains the well being of local people.” He then worked to introduce these same principles into the mainstream travel industry, helping to establish sustainable tourism based on three key pillars: Environmentally-friendly operations; Protection of natural and cultural heritage; and Social and economic benefits for local people. This led to the founding of Costas Christ | Beyond Green Travel over 20 years ago to advance a new and positive vision for tourism that continues to transform the global travel industry today.
ON THE WORLD STAGE
As an inspirational thought leader and travel influencer, Costas is a dynamic speaker. He has appeared onstage at the world’s most important travel events, including the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, United Nations World Tourism Forum, World Travel Market, ITB Berlin, Pure Life Experiences, Virtuoso Symposium, California Outlook Forum and Adventure Travel World Summit. His television and radio appearances include Travel Channel, Good Morning America, National Geographic Channel, NatGeo Weekend, PBS, BBC, CNN, CBS, NBC and National Public Radio.
Costas has served as a top advisor to CEOs, philanthropists, tourism ministers and heads of state, helping companies and countries achieve success based on a business model of doing well by doing good. He was honored as an “Eco Warrior” together with Dr Jane Goodall, CNN founder Ted Turner, and oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and was also recognized as a “Tourism Visionary” by the International Restaurant and Hotel Awards. He received the International Peace Through Tourism Award in 2017 for his sustainable tourism development work to support the Colombia peace process.
Costas with former Colombian President Juan Miguel Santos, after Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a treaty to end Colombia’s civil war.
On the set in Australia for an ecotourism documentary
He has appeared on television and in award-winning documentaries showcasing some of the world’s most beautiful places and fascinating cultures, illustrating how traveling the right way - the sustainable way - can deliver a great vacation that also helps protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures for future generations.
Costas first met Academy Award-winning movie director, Francis Ford Coppola, in Belize, helping the legendary filmmaker develop sustainable tourism practices at his two small lodges -Turtle Inn and Blancaneaux. When Mr. Coppola agreed to do a live interview to tell his story of travel and movie making, he chose Costas to interview him on stage. Watch Costas’ live Interview with Francis Ford Coppola at the 2018 Global Travel Summit.
Costas with Francis Ford Coppola
Costas Featured in Acclaimed Travel Documentary Gringo Trails
Gringo Trails includes the story of Costas’ early days of travel in Thailand that led him to raise a global alarm about unplanned tourism growth. Film director Dr. Pegi Vail documents his story - a true version of events that parallels the Hollywood film, The Beach. You can watch the trailer below and download the entire film here.
articles and interviews
Whether sitting down for a one-on-one interview with actor and conservationist Harrison Ford or having a community meeting with Mongolian nomads in the Gobi Desert, Costas’ tireless passion continues to take him to the far ends of the Earth and back. His mission? To make global tourism a force for conserving the environment, protecting heritage and alleviating poverty. His travel stories and essays have appeared worldwide in books, magazines and newspapers, including Wilderness: Earth's Last Wild Places, Ecotourism: A Guide for Planners and Managers and Echoes of Bhutan, along with travel articles in New York Times, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune and Sunday Times of London, among others. He is an Editor at Large for National Geographic Traveler, and his column, “Good Going”, appears in Virtuoso Life magazine.
Costas’ World’s Best Lodges cover story helped inspire the launch of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World Collection.
You can find many of Costas’ stories and interviews online. Here are a few:
The Last Sanctuary, National Geographic Traveler
Good Going: Simply Serene in Belize, Virtuoso Traveler
The Dalai Lama’s Guide to Happiness, National Geographic Traveler
An Interview with Costas Christ in Twenty Six Magazine
Travel Writer: Costas Christ on Rolf Potts
Conversations with Maine Interview with Costas Christ, PBS