Supporting Global Development through Sustainable Tourism

Thursday, 08 January 2015 18:55

Solimar Delivers First of Five Sustainable Tourism Training Courses to Ethiopian Officials

Written by Natalie Sellier
Tourism training Ethiopia
Tourism Training in Ethiopia

On January 3rd, Solimar wrapped its Tourism Planning and Implementation Course, our first of five courses scheduled under the Ethiopia Short-Term Training Program. The 14-day course was delivered at the Ethiopian Management Institute in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, to a group of 35 participants from the Ethiopian government. At the national level, there were representatives from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as well as the newly-formed Ethiopian Tourism Organization. All of the country’s Regional Culture and Tourism Bureaus were also represented. Finally, there were participants from nearly all of the country’s national parks. The background of the participants varied considerably, with some having only started engaging in tourism activities over the past several years and others that had been in the sector for over twenty years.

Overall, participants were highly active in discussions and displayed a strong eagerness to learn more about tourism. Some indicated that they would be engaged in specific planning activities in the coming year. The others, however, still felt that they would be able to put to use a number of the tools and techniques learned during the course. As such, nearly all felt that the course was quite relevant to their work and were highly appreciative of the opportunity that had been granted to them.

Brad Weiss served as the instructor of the course and was assisted by guest lecturer, Dr. Theodros Atlabachew. The course—primarily focused on tourism planning and policy—provided participants with critical skills required for public sector management of the Ethiopian tourism industry. A special presentation was delivered by Weiss and course coordinator Mekonnen GebreEgziabher that covered the basic principles of community tourism, another topic for which the group had indicated a strong interest. The instructors demonstrated the process utilized by the USAID-funded ESTA project, and highlighted keys to success.  

Brad Weiss Ethiopia
Brad Weiss Leads a Training Class 

All participants were provided with a flash drive with 35 practical documents (policies, plans, stats, manuals, worksheet, case studies, etc.) to use when they return to their officesTo reach even more people working within the Ethiopian tourism sector, participants were encouraged to think of the course as a “train-the-trainers” approach. Each person was provided with the course slides and encouraged to share key concepts and resources with their colleagues through short-courses or presentations.

Solimar instructor Matthew Humke began our second course on Integrated Destination Management and Planning course on Monday, January 12th, which will run for two sessions through March. We are excited about the impact these courses will continue to have in building capacity among those planning, managing and marketing tourism to Ethiopia.

For more information on the available courses, please visit http://www.ethiopiasustainabletourismtraining.com.

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Friday, 06 February 2015 19:05

Four Ways to Become the Hottest Destination of 2025

Written by Clinton Tedja

With the tourism industry booming, competition amongst destinations is fierce. Hundreds of variables and thousands of runners in this race means that by 2025, anything could happen. But the good news is that with the right preparation today, any underdog has a shot at being the winning destination. Here are some tips to help you out.

Morocco City Sunset
Sunset in Morocco

1. Conserve Your Resources

We all know that climate change has the potential to drastically change the tourism game. Without intervention, many of our sunny beaches will be eroded and our crisp mountain air replaced by pollution. Temperature-wise, nobody really wants to be the “hottest destination”. This is why sustainable tourism development is so important. 

Every location, including yours, has something intrinsically unique to offer the world. But the challenge is, can you conserve it? Whether your destination is home to a rare breed of lion, the best coffee beans in the world or an unparalleled kayaking experience, you’ll want to be able to flaunt it like a peacock forever (or flaunt your actual peacocks). Strategies like the ones we implement to conserve these resources will make you stand a head above the rest.

Solimar proudly works with Namibia, the first African country to incorporate conservation into its constitution. Today, 42% of the country’s land is preserved by communal conservancies- and Namibia has simultaneously earned its place as a must-see destination.

2. Tourism Services Training

When your visitors are greeted by the smiling faces of your well-trained staff, they will not only love your destination, they will brag about you to all their friends. Too many local tourism services in the past have left visitors feeling either disappointed, lost in translation or downright scammed. By 2025, travelers will be more globally aware and will be tired of subpar services, making this component of your travel marketing wildly attractive. 

We at Solimar International have identified that guide services, as well as food, lodging, transportation and craft services are key areas to work on. Investing in your workforce’s development creates a positive cycle that will last to 2030 and beyond. Visitors to your destination will be happier with your product, leading to satisfied feedback and widespread positive reviews producing economic benefits for you and your employees, simultaneously enriching the work experience and the tourism product for visitors. But in order to be ahead in the future, sustainable tourism development and training needs to start today.

Boquillas del Carmen Mexico Canoe River
Canoeing in Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico

3. Create Tourism Partnerships

The new generation is searching for authentic experiences and real connections. The quickest way to flush authenticity down the drain is to stamp all over local culture, make them feel marginalized or to drown out the traditions with external influence. 

Public-private partnership (PPP) between stakeholders such as tourist operators, local governments, farmers and communities is integral to creating an incredibly appealing destination, particularly for destination marketing purposes. 

PPP encourages action and communication among all stakeholders in a project, so that no voice is left unheard and unrepresented in the finished tourism product. It creates positive economic outcomes and conserves authenticity, and also ensures that there is stability in the social environment in addition to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance. 

4. Create a Tourism Marketing Strategy

Unfortunately, without solid destination marketing, your nation’s “best kept secret” will stay exactly that: a secret. Marketing means more than just sticking up a billboard on the highway, especially in this constantly evolving world of technology and social media. It will mean creating relevant and creative strategies intended for targeted audiences, which tackle everything from strategic planning and branding to website development, as well as travel trade marketing, social media marketing, and integrated marketing programs. These strategies can have people everywhere scrambling to put your irresistible destination on their bucket list.

After years of experience in travel marketing, we have seen the powerful effect of good marketing proven over and over again with our various projects in over 40 countries. Even more exciting is the pride of marketing a destination which has flourished by following these tips, conserving resources, training tourism services and creating harmonious partnerships. 

A lot can happen over the next ten years. But just like in any other race, being prepared with the right resources and strategies can mean all the difference between winning and losing. So play your cards right and start equipping your running belt with these strategies today. Who knows, your destination could win the race and be the hottest destination of not only 2025, but of the entire century.

To see how your destination or tourism business is doing- check out Solimar’s Self-Assessment!

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

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Following the first training Solimar launched in Ethiopia, Matthew Humke delivered two individual 23-day Integrated Destination Planning and Management courses as part of Solimar’s Short Term Sustainable Tourism Training Program.

IMG 4149Ethiopia Training 2Ethiopia Training 3


Each course covered seven modules, including Destination Typology, Tourism Assessment Techniques and Tools, Tourism and Resource Conservation, Tourism Product Development, Destination Marketing, Managing the Visitor Experience, and Destination Management Planning. The purpose of the course was to offer Ethiopia tourism professionals a thorough overview of the types of destinations and the different modalities for their management so they can effectively incorporate these concepts into their work.

Ethiopia Training Group
Training Group in Ethiopia

There were a total of 68 participants in the two courses – 33 in the first course and 35 in the second. Participants included representatives from the Ethiopian government, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Regional Culture and Tourism Bureaus, Ethiopia’s national parks as well as cultural and historical sites. Within both courses, participants showed consistent interest and enthusiasm and were eager to learn the course content.

To ensure our content as relevant and applicable to the professional careers of the participants as possible, each module was structured in three sections. First, the instructor Matthew Humke introduced the course material with an emphasis on how it relates to Ethiopia as well as the professional context of the participants. Second, participants formed the 4-6 person “destination working groups” and picked an actual tourism destination in Ethiopia – ranging from national parks to cultural and historical sites – to which they applied many of the planning and management concepts during their practice and production activities. Finally, participants shared their discussion results with the class. Throughout the course, the destination working groups developed various aspects of an actual destination management plan step by step including tourism supply and demand, existing and potential market segments, and priorities at their destinations in tourism development, management and marketing.

Ethiopia Training
Training Workshop in Ethiopia

The course also included a series of weekly field trips designed to highlight some aspect of the content being taught during the course that week. For example, during the Tourism and Resource Conservation module, a field trip took place to Awash National Park where participants met with park management and staff to discuss the conservation objectives and challenges that park faces. During the Managing the Visitor Experience module, the participants traveled to Melka Kunture to see how that site interpreted its historical aspects and cultural heritage.

On the final day of the course, destination working groups presented their final project by taking all of their analysis and put it into a condensed destination management plans that identified strategic objectives for their sites as well as 1-5 year action plans.

Participants walked away the course not only with their certificates, but also materials from each of the seven modules, containing PowerPoint presentations, tools like worksheets, templates, publications, reports, videos and other complimentary materials related to the content provided in each module as well as photos and videos taken by the instructor during the course of field trips, participant presentations, etc.

Solimar marketing expert Natasha Martin will be the instructor of our two individual courses on Tourism Marketing and Branding course starting on March 16th and April 17th. For more information on the available courses, please visit http://www.ethiopiasustainabletourismtraining.com

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