Working in the tourism industry has opened our eyes to the overall diversity of times, customs, and traditions that are associated with welcoming the New Year around the world. For many in the United States, New Year’s Eve will be celebrated with friends and family over a bottle or two of bubbly, Chinese food, and some fireworks. In Greece, people will get ready for the New Year by hanging an onion on their doors (as a symbol of rebirth). To the Western Hemisphere and those who follow the Gregorian calendar this day of celebration and reflection is on January 1st. Many Eastern cultures however, typically celebrate the New Year in late January or early February (because they follow a lunisolar calendar). New Year’s is a unique holiday because it presents a dichotomy of emotion- a sober reflection of the year past alongside an optimistic celebration and hope for the year ahead.
Let us share with you some of the traditions from the places Solimar will be working in the New Year:
In October of this year Solimar started preparation to run a series of trainings for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and five regional tourism bureaus in Ethiopia. The trainings are focused on building public sector capacity to leverage sustainable tourism potential in the country.
Ethiopians follow a variation of the Alexandrian calendar and celebrate New Year’s, which they call Enkutatash, in mid-September. New Year’s Eve celebrations in Ethiopia include live music, cultural events, religious gatherings, parties and beer drinking. New Year’s Day begins with church services followed by a family meal where small gifts are given to the children.
Solimar began working in Nepal earlier this year developing and renovating an online platform that promotes trade and trekking along the Great Himalayan Trail. Through identifying and supporting a new legal entity to take over development, expansion, and maintenance of the website Solimar hopes to spur international visitors to trek in Nepal.
Nepal follows a lunar calendar and therefore celebrates New Year’s Day on the first day of the waxing moon. New Year’s EveDay fall during the Swanti Festival—a five-day festival celebrating the central role of women in the household and wishing family members good fortune. Newars observe New Year’s Day by performing Mha Puja, a ritual to purify and empower the soul. Outdoor celebrations, such as pageants, rallies, and cultural processions, take place throughout the day.
Beginning in February and extending into the New Year, Solimar will be working with USAID’s Biz+ program aiming to improve the economic climate, increase employment, and generate higher household incomes in Sri Lanka. Solimar is working with small tourism enterprises in Sri Lanka helping them develop business plans and strategies as well as improving their business capacity through a number of services.
The Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka celebrate New Year, or Aluth Avurudda, on the 13th of April, which marks the end of the harvest season. Interestingly, the Sinhalese New Year does not begin at midnight the day before, but is determined by astrological calculations. The time between the old year and the new is usually 12 hours and 48 minutes and is referred to as the Nonagathe (auspicious time). Cultural rituals including cleaning the house and lighting an oil lamp, begin once the New Year arrives and are followed by a celebration of fireworks and street parties.
From everyone at Solimar International, Happy New Year!
Solimar International is starting off the New Year right – we’re proud to have just launched a new project in Sri Lanka on January 4th of this year! This project is called Entrepreneurship and New Product Development in the Tourism Sector of the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. With the International Finance Corporation as our client, we look forward to working hard on this project until its intended end date of December 31st, 2016.
Sri Lanka is a small island south of India, boasting gorgeous beaches, diverse wildlife, and lush rainforests as well as awe-inspiring ancient Buddhist ruins. Generally, Sri Lanka’s Western coast has been its tourism hub, but the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka have recently been experiencing an emerging shift in the tourism industry. Although these parts of the nation encounter obstacles with respect to providing top-notch quality to tourists, we know that there is opportunity for growth and positive change. We intend to help develop these provinces into high quality destinations for international tourists with the goal of attracting visitors, both international and regional, for years to come. In this year’s project, led by Lucia Prinz, we are working towards boosting meaningful conversations in the Northern and Eastern provinces, specifically the Mannar, Batticaloa and Ampara districts, aiming for the advancement of improved policies and services between the private sector and government.
During our year working towards improving the Sri Lanka tourism sector, we will be busy with essential tasks including: collaborating with local tourism providers to ensure the most up-to-date client services, and implement skills development training to these tourism providers in geographical areas using our Small Tourism Enterprise Operations and Management training course as a model. We will also provide workshops, sales training, and technical assistance and enhanced market access to promote our designated Sri Lanka provinces. In addition, we aim to organize local festivals to promote Sri Lankan provincial culture and tradition.
By the project’s end, our anticipated results include: implementation of a Small Tourism and Enterprise Operations and Management Course; creation of measures for best practices to submit a work plan to the IFC; enactment of a relationship between government and private stakeholders in tourism; expansion of tourism products or services, and implementation of a marketing strategy. These are just a few of our anticipated results, and we will keep readers posted on our progress throughout the year. Solimar is excited to start this new journey towards improving Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka tourism!
Solimar and the SAVE Travel Alliance are thrilled to have recently launched the new and improved SAVE Travel Alliance Website. We have partnered with the SAVE Travel Alliance team to create a fresh, updated, and comprehensive website dedicated to linking travelers from all walks of life to amazing experiences at our seven global destinations: Jamaica, Nicaragua, Bhutan, Myanmar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, and Campeche, Mexico. Our team has been working hard to develop and establish SAVE centers to act as headquarters that promote Scientific, Academic, Volunteer, and Educational tourism experiences. These locations each bring their own traditions and diversity to SAVE Travel, but their common goal is to encourage ethical tourism and bring passionate travelers to their nations.
Travel should make a positive impact on travelers and the destinations they visit. Our goals are to connect with areas of the world that are in need of positive and responsible tourism and to serve as a bridge between travelers and destinations. SAVE travelers include university students, professors, researchers, volunteers, tour groups, and many more! We have been researching and gathering information on amazing travel experiences, including volunteering at a school in Namibia and enjoying a 7-day Mayan culture tour in Campeche! These regional centers will establish lasting economic and social benefits for their communities by increasing international travel to these destinations, boosting responsible tourism, and advocating for the success of local businesses. Our revamped SAVE website beautifully showcases the history and culture of each destination through a modern and welcoming layout, stunning images, and captivating text. We are continuing to add unforgettable travel experiences to each of our destination’s pages to ensure that there is an opportunity for every type of responsible traveler.
Through this exciting SAVE project, we at Solimar and the SAVE Travel Alliance act as facilitators for travelers, organizations, universities, and our destinations’ local businesses. We are able to link travelers to our destinations’ amazing opportunities as they become available, and this easy access is invaluable to a passionate traveler. If a student is seeking a meaningful academic opportunity, such as a semester studying abroad, we point him in the direction of our academic experiences. If a scientist is looking to engage in biological research, we guide her to our global scientific experiences. It is then up to these potential travelers to decided to reach out to the organizations and make their dreams a reality!
We will make sure to keep you posted on the exciting happenings and progress of our new SAVE website. In the meantime, check it out and let us know what you think!