Supporting Global Development through Sustainable Tourism

Sunset Ngwe Saung Beach
Sunset at Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar

Solimar International is pleased to announce that we have signed a three-year contract to represent the Myanmar Tourism Federation (MTF) in North America. Together, MTF and Solimar will work to position Myanmar as an exciting, exotic and undiscovered destination for North American tourists. 

Myanmar has an untouched quality that gives visitors the experience of feeling like they are the first to stumble upon its floating gardens and golden temples. In order to maintain this feeling of novelty, we will work with MTF to support sustainable, long-term growth for the Myanmar tourism sector by attracting high-value, low impact tourists to minimize tourist influence on Myanmar’s fragile environment.

 

OUR OBJECTIVES

Specifically, Solimar’s objectives are:

  1. To effectively communicate the unique selling points of Myanmar to North American trade, media and tourists
  2. To ensure that the Myanmar message reaches a receptive audience
  3. To increase the number of North American tourists and their length of stay in Myanmar, and to create repeat visitation
  4. To support market access for Myanmar’s small and medium sized enterprises
Kayaking Sadan Cafe Myanmar
Kayaking in Sadan Cave, Myanmar

OUR APPROACH

Solimar is taking a five-pronged approach to provide marketing representation to MTF. 

  1. We will open an MTF office in Washington, DC that will respond to inquiries from tourists, travel trade, and media. The MTF office will regularly meet with the Myanmar Embassy in DC to identify potential areas of collaboration. 
  2. We will work with media to identify compelling storylines and host press trips for top journalists. As North American tourists are consistently inspired by stories in the media, it is vital that these stories reflect Myanmar’s unique characteristics accurately. 
  3. We will work to develop strong partnerships between Myanmar inbound tour operators and outbound North American operators. In order to do this, Solimar will organize familiarization trips to ensure that North American tour operators have experienced Myanmar firsthand, creating passionate brand ambassadors and educated sales people. Furthermore, Solimar will work with trade operators currently selling Myanmar to ensure that they are up to date on new niche activities, and are able to market the destination with the accurate, remarkable content they need.
  4. We will work to optimize Myanmar travel and create a robust online presence for MTF. This will include content creation around a trade and media page, as well as the creation of a simple social media strategy for Facebook and Instagram. 
  5. We will attend strategic trade events in North America on behalf of MTF in order to meet with trade and media partners to build relationships.

Both Solimar and MTF are committed to ensuring that tourism continues to provide an important contribution to Myanmar’s economy. The Minister of Hotels and Tourism, H.E. Htay Aung has referred to the partnership as a “milestone in our history.” Solimar is also very excited about this opportunity to help market one of Asia’s most unique up-and-coming travel destinations.

For more information or assistance, check out our Global Tourism toolkit for achieving sustainable tourism goals.

And don't forget to follow us out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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Peak Park in Colombia
Peak Park in Colombia

Solimar was recently contracted to support the development of a 5-year management plan for a protected area on the Caribbean island of Old Providencia, in the Colombian Department of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina. Solimar is tasked with developing innovative ideas to engage stakeholders working within the park to generate a sustainable source of revenue through tourism.

The Project

Solimar is applying our Business Approach to Conservation to develop revenue models and a business plan for the park that actively mitigate threats to conservation in the protected area and generate economic opportunities for local residents.

The Challenges

Because this is a remote region of Colombia, there is a unique set of challenges that must be considered in its development as a tourism destination. The island of Providencia is home to about 5,000 residents and receives fewer than 20,000 visitors per year. As tourism develops in the region, it must be done carefully and in a way that ensure economic opportunity for local residents. As in any destination, the charm of the communities around the park lies on their authenticity, something that should not be disturbed or “packaged” in a way that misrepresents them or threatens their way of life.

The Park

Regional Natural Park (PRN) The Peak was developed to preserve the fragile dry forest ecosystems in the mountains run the length of the island. Threats to the ecosystem include activities related to unsustainable agriculture and unregulated tourism activity. 

Solimar’s work with the protected area comes as Colombian national government plans significant investments in tourism infrastructure on the island.

Education
Tourism stakeholders receiving training

Our Work

Solimar’s Gabriel Seder recently completed a destination assessment on the island. During a five-day site visit, Solimar:
• Hosted workshops and community meetings with stakeholders, including community residents, guide associations, farmer cooperatives, conservation NGOs, and local government officials
• Completed a conservation threat assessment to identify direct and indirect threats to biodiversity conservation
• Conducted a tourism destination assessment to understand existing and potential attractions and supporting infrastructure and services
• Conducted a visitor survey to assess market demand for new tourism products
• Introduced business concepts for generating revenue in support of conservation
• Drafted a business plan to support the sustainable implementation of conservation and revenue-generating activities

In the next phase of the project, Solimar will develop a fundraising strategy that can be used to secure funding for key activities. Solimar will target funders and donors in Colombia and internationally to support the development of ecotourism products on the island.

Solimar’s previous work in Colombia incudes the development of a Geotourism interactive website on the islands of San Andres and Providencia, in partnership with National Geographic and funded by a loan from the InterAmerican Development Bank.

Solimar also worked in the region of Chocó to develop and market community-based tourism enterprises as part of the BIOREDD+ program funded by USAID.

Colombia was recently listed one of Solimar's top ten destinations to discover in 2015.

For more information on how Solimar’s business approach to tourism and conservation planning, click here.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! 

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In this generation, social media is more important than ever, especially for tourism marketing. People are spending over four times more time on Facebook than Google - today there are about 1.3 billion people on Facebook. Is Facebook really useful for businesses? Let this number convince you - 52% of businesses have acquired customers through Facebook. That’s a lot of potential for the tourism industry.

Needless to say, social media can be your destination’s magic megaphone. But do you know how to use it well? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you endeavor to amplify your roar.

Are You Connecting With People? No, Really Connecting?

A billboard does not listen. People listen. This is where social media differs from traditional marketing- as you can (and should) be interacting with your audience directly. Ask questions. Make it interactive. Reply to comments. 

Another exciting thing about social media marketing is the way in which even one individual’s Likes, Shares, Comments, Tweets, Friends, or Tags are able to increase your visibility, diverting more and more eyes to you.

Are You Developing the Right Content?

60% of the sales process is over before a prospective buyer ever talks to a salesman or begins the process. What does that mean? It means that almost every single visitor will make a majority of their decision through online research before anything else. You want to create content that supports them in that online research phase. 

So be sure to evaluate your content. Have you thought about keywords? How is the quality of your images? Are you providing a diverse enough array of multimedia content? What are you offering and are you communicating it in an appealing way? These are important thoughts to take into consideration.

Are You On the Right Platform?

It is also important to know where to roar.  Find out who your target audience is, and where they spend their time in the online world. They could be on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, or maybe even all of the above. There is more to social media than Facebook and one of the best ways to amplify your roar is to increase your reach through these different, targeted social media platforms.

Are You Showcasing Personality?

Social media also offers you a unique opportunity to be human. Nobody wants to talk to a salesman who is constantly pitching; they want to build relationships with real people. The same principle applies when it comes to creating brand loyalty, trust and eventually sales. Don’t be afraid to show a little bit of humor and personality in your social media marketing strategy. Be relevant, not robotic. If visitors to your social media site are having fun, they will want to have fun at your actual physical site too.

What Does Your Unique Roar Sound Like?

Every destination, including yours, has something unique to offer. So there’s no need to spend all your time trying to imitate somebody else’s roar.

A destination assessment can go a long way in identifying your hidden gems and how to best conserve them. Many destinations have a diverse array of brilliant tourism products which have been overlooked. You want to be able to spot these with destination assessments and to also tailor social media marketing strategies to showcasing your best colors. Our projects in Rwanda, Namibia and the U.S. Gulf Coast, for example, have been integral in doing that: maximizing an active audience of followers, generating stunning branding content and increasing revenue by presenting destinations at the very peak of their potential. 

With unlimited online space, the opportunities to multiply your untapped audience are limitless. Take the right steps with social media and you could have the loudest roar of all. 

Feel free to learn about more innovative strategies through our free e-book, "Inbound Marketing for the Travel and Tourism Industry".

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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Malawi Girl
Malawian girl carries fresh fish to local village

Solimar International has partnered with Via Via Tourism Academy, at the request of the Ministry of Information, to develop a five-year tourism development strategy for Malawi. From February 1-8, two workshops were conducted with over 100 individuals from the private, public, non-profit, and donor sectors to identify the country’s unique tourism assets and create a shared story of Malawi’s tourism future. Participants were very enthusiastic and the presentation was very well-received. The information presented at the workshops was based on a year’s worth of research and conversation with the local industry. Through facilitation, Solimar was able to lay the ground work for several initiatives like the creation of a new public-private partnership destination marketing organization and a network of regional tourism management committees.

The “Malawi 2020 Tourism Development Strategy” is currently being finalized. The plan will document Malawi’s vision forward based on the outcome of the workshops, and will include a brand profile and marketing strategy. Representatives from both the public and private sector will work together to implement the actions in "Malawi 2020” starting June 2015. In addition to working with the Destination Management Organization (DMO) and the local tourism committees, there are a number of issues, like handing the required infrastructure, education, and taxes, that will also start being addressed through ongoing cross-sectorial dialogue and ministerial task forces.

Solimar is very excited about this new relationship with Malawi and looks forward to helping it grow as one of Africa’s up-and-coming destinations. With its numerous wildlife reserves, unique varying landscapes, and friendly people, Malawi is sure to amaze its travelers. Workshop instructor, David Brown, describes Malawi’s charm and beauty,

“Visiting Malawi is always an uplifting experience. It’s called ‘the warm heart of Africa’ and that’s not just some empty advertising. Malawians are incredibly friendly and happy. You’re hard pressed to go anywhere without hearing laughter. The landscapes are immense but still humble. On the drive from Lilongwe, the capital, to Blantyre, the commercial hub, it’s easy to get lost in the big open spaces pierced with solitary mountains. Big plateaus full of zebra dominate areas in the North and the South and when you look around can feel like you’re surrounded by sky. Anyone coming to Malawi will surely be headed to the “inland ocean” of Lake Malawi which runs almost the entire length of the country. When you arrive and see the big blue expanse and the golden sand, you feel like you’re David Livingstone discovering something truly incredible for the first time. There’s something very tropical and peaceful about being there, especially when the sunset turns everything pink and the only thing you can see on the horizon are local fishermen bringing their boats to shore and the children splashing around.”

Lake Malawi
Sunset at Lake Malawi

Interested in learning more about tourism destination management? Check out one of our toolkits.

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And don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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