Supporting Global Development through Sustainable Tourism

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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Can you believe we’re already a month into 2015? We hope your year is off to a great start and that you are still keeping with those New Year’s Resolutions. One resolution we think you shouldn’t forget about: Travel more! To help you out, Solimar has compiled a list of the top 10 places we think should be on your bucket list for 2015. Check out these great sustainable travel options for ideas to inspire your next trip.

1. Myanmar

From gorgeous Buddhist temples to snaking, serene rivers, Myanmar has much to offer the adventure traveler. The rich cultural diversity of this “untouched” country makes it a must-visit for those looking for a unique Southeast Asian escape.

2. Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal

Nepal is on the bucket list for many adventure travelers because of the legendary Himalayas, but they tend to visit the same well-trodden destinations. The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) is a network of trails that span across the mountain range. Trekkers enjoy spectacular views on these challenging trails, while also meeting and interacting with Nepali locals. In late 2014, Solimar started work with the GHT to ensure effective online promotion of trekking in Nepal. A must for the truly adventurous! 

Great Himalaya Trail Trek
Trekkers on the Great Himalaya Trail

3. Tanzania

Home to the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is the adventure traveler’s dream. Don’t be alarmed if you spot the king of the jungle during your visit – the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa.

4. Colombia

The Colombian archipelago of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina are the epitome of beauty and relaxation. Visitors are sure to enjoy the islands’ picturesque, sandy beaches and waterfalls. Make sure to explore the plethora of colorful marine life that live there! Solimar is currently working with National Geographic to create a strategic business plan and marketing strategy to provide a long-term geotourism solution to Colombia.

Waterfall in Colombia
Gorgeous waterfall in Colombia

5. The Mississippi River

Looking for a unique adventure in the heart of North America? Try a Mississippi river tour! The largest river system in the US, the Mississippi is an excellent option for exploring the geographic, ecological, and cultural diversity the US has to offer. Solimar’s Mississippi River Geotourism Project is working to create a destination marketing and branding strategy to provide the Mississippi River area with attractions to support geotourism in the area.

6. Namibia

No surprise here – Namibia has been and will continue to be one of our favorite sustainable travel destinations! The gorgeous sunsets over desert and coastal landscapes, big game encounters, and rich culture is truly unparalleled. 

Namibian Cultural Art
Namibian Artwork

7. Nicaragua

Nicaragua is 2015’s Central America travel hotspot. Boasting a rich tapestry cultural history (home to one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere) and amazing natural wonders like Pacific Coast beaches and volcanoes, Nicaragua has something for everyone. Nicaragua is also home to Solimar’s newest ecolodge development project.

Ethiopia wildlife
Ethiopia is great for bird-watching

8. Ethiopia

Ethiopia is an excellent place to see the crossroads of African and Middle-Eastern cultures. For the history and culture lover, Ethiopia is sure to not disappoint. But don’t forget the wildlife! Ethiopia is also a perfect spot for bird-watchers and animal lovers.

9. Bethlehem

While most people know Bethlehem as the historic birthplace of Christ, this Palestinian city has so much more to offer. Along with the Church of the Nativity, travelers must also visit the ‘Land of Olives and Vines’, a hiking trail through ancient Roman terraces, and the desert Monastery of Ma Saba: just for a glimpse of the area’s long and rich cultural history. Solimar is currently working to create a master plan and strategic marketing plan for the Bethlehem governorate to make this location a competitive sustainable tourism destination.

10. Malawi

Get up close and personal with a rhino, lion, or giraffe in Malawi at one of its numerous wildlife reserves. The friendly, charming people and beautiful, varied landscapes are wonderful attractions for any traveler. 

For more information on our favorite destinations, please visit our website and sign up for our newsletter.

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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.

In late 2014, Solimar International began working with the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) in Nepal.  The GHT is a network of trails that currently span across the Nepali Himalayas. The experiences offered along these trails are rough, but unforgettable. Trekkers are afforded spectacular views of the most breathtaking mountain range on earth, they have meaningful exchanges with Nepali people and push their own physical limits in some of the world's most challenging trails.  The GHT also seeks to promote responsible tourism in Nepal, and is used to unite the trekking industry around this concept.

Nepal is on the bucket list of most adventure travelers, specifically, the Everest Base Camp Trek, which is accessible but adventurous and provides a glimpse of one of the world's great natural wonders. As a result, most tourists to Nepal visit the same well trodden destinations. The GHT encourages tourists to get out and explore the rest of the mountain range, which stretches across the entire country.  

Nepal Peace Flags
Nepal Peace Flags

The GHT is currently being managed by the Samarth-Nepal Market Development Project, which is funded by DFID and contracted to Adam Smith International. They inherited this tourism product from a former DFID project and needed support from tourism experts to help transition the GHT to new management. 

Management of the GHT comprises several components, namely product development, marketing and trail management.

Solimar was initially asked to focus on GHT tourism branding, a destination assessment and identify an organization to take over the GHT website. During this contract period, our team traveled to Nepal and met with GHT stakeholders from associations, tour operators, guides and government organizations. We provided Samarth-NMDP with seven possible scenarios for moving forward. 

Mountain Peaks in Nepal
Mountain Peaks in Nepal

We were delighted to renew our contract with Adam Smith for 2015, and in the coming year Solimar will be working with GHT stakeholders to build a fresh website for the GHT, including compelling content for social channels and support the transition to a new management structure.  

The GHT has the opportunity to be a truly iconic product for Nepal: it provides both a base for activities and a unifying concept for the variety of attractions the destination has to offer. It exemplifies the concept of site doing, not site seeing. Solimar is looking forward to working with Samarth-NMDP in 2015 to help the GHT realize its full potential.

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