In this day and age, tourism’s growth is a force which simply cannot be ignored. This year, the tourism and travel industry will accelerate faster than the global economy, making up 10% of Global GDP and 9.5% of employment worldwide. It’s clear that the decisions affecting tourism will have tremendous impacts on lives everywhere.
Washington, D.C. is at the heart of this change - a vibrant world capital itself, it’s host to diplomatic envoys from all over the world. Seeped in the cultures of hundreds of nations, it is at the forefront of development and growth.
D.C. is home to world travelers, with over 400 international associations, 1,000 internationally owned companies and more than 180 embassies and international culture centers in the Greater Washington region. In all, D.C. is a prime city for introducing a destination to the North American travel market.
Here are 7 reasons why Washington DC is the perfect place for US marketing representation:
1. DC is a Pedestal for International Relations
Washington is where decisions regarding tourism issues are decided upon and/or announced. Being close in a relational and geographical sense to the center of decision-making is integral, because just as in any other industry, knowledge is power. DC offers a world of exactly that, through the endless connections, meetings and conferences held there. For example, just last week, we found ourselves learning secrets about tourism’s future in Bhutan, from the mouth of the Bhutanese Prime Minister himself. This kind of information is priceless for tourism marketing representatives.
2. Partnerships with DC Embassies are Invaluable
The fact of the matter is this: Embassies and US Tourism Marketing Representatives are like our left and right hands. Though they both possess different skills and abilities, they both work towards the same goal and work better together. So collaboration isn’t just smart, it is essential.
In many of our projects, having a close proximity to the plethora of embassies lining the DC streets has not only been convenient, it has been absolutely instrumental in ensuring streamlined and efficient communication.
3. Endless Opportunities for Partnership
National Geographic, the various Smithsonian Institutes, as well as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are among the many potential partners in DC who are outstanding partners for destinations. Tourism development (especially sustainable tourism development) are priorities for DC groups as well as destinations. If that’s not enough, DC is also home to great travel trade- tour operators and travel agents, essential parts of a compelling sales strategy.
4. It is an International Hub
In the past few years, Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport together have amassed over 40,000,000 passengers yearly, and are served by over 42 different airlines. Travel is a DC priority. In 2013, 6,988,903 international passengers arrived at Dulles International Airport.
Any North American tourism marketing representative knows the dread and fear caused by the word Visas. Having the Embassies at our fingertips can make all the difference in making things run smoothly, especially when time is tight.
6. Mutually Beneficial Public Relations
Little needs to be said about how effective partnering with the forces in DC can be when it comes to attaining stronger public relations and advertising. We’ve seen that when tourism marketing representatives and embassies agree on the image and message they want to present, they are able to work together to create far more effective public relations than they would be able to on their own.
7. High Level Officials Representing at Road Shows in DC
There’s no doubt that no other North American city has a larger concentration of high level officials than DC. Almost any global destination automatically has high level officials in the area by nature of diplomatic positioning; a DC-based marketing representative will be able to woo them to tourism events and activities promoting destinations, giving events more prestige and bigger opportunities for PR and marketing.
For more advice on marketing representation and sustainable tourism, feel free to try our “ask an expert” page.
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As Earth Day took place this week, it's only natural to think about how tourism is used to support conservation. When done sustainably, tourism serves as a powerful tool to support conservation of the ecosystems upon which it depends. In this spirit, Solimar has collaborated with a large number of hotels, tour operators and destinations to help them create a tourism product that supports conservation. Here's a lot at five of those destinations:
Recently, Solimar received a request from the government of Bhutan to help implement cultural heritage projects in the country's villages. When developed correctly, cultural heritage products can increase revenue to rural villages that can directly support cultural heritage preservation. During the project, which runs until August 2015, Solimar is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the tourism potential of Bhutan's villages and prepare a report which includes information about which villages have the greatest potential for tourism development. Culture-based tourism products will be developed by the creation of profitable enterprises and visitor experiences that enhance cultural preservation and communities.
Solimar has also been contracted to create a master plan for conservation for conservation tourism development in southern Tanzania. Southern Tanzania is home to most of the country's elephants, making it a lucrative tourist destination, although it is relatively undiscovered. The development of sustainable tourism in southern Tanzania is likely to raise revenue for conservation while discouraging poaching and forest degradation that pose a threat to the region.
Solimar is conducting a field assessment of tourism circuits, issues and opportunities in the region and examining the potential impact of tourism on conservation. Following the assessment, a master plan containing analysis and recommendations will be submitted that should result in the development of conservation-friendly tourism in southern Tanzania.
A long running project, Solimar is collaborating with the National Geographic Society Maps Division to implement a sustainable destination program in the Verde Valley. The project includes developing a Vision, Strategy, and Action Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development to be realized through public engagement. Solimar is also creating - with the Sedona Verde Valley Tourism Council - a Destination Marketing and Branding Strategy, which focuses on sustainable tourism, river conservation and the region's culture. The project is anticipated to create greater community involvement in conservation and sustainable tourism development efforts.
Recently, Solimar developed a business plan that detailed a strategy for how tourism can directly enhance the conservation of the Peak Regional Park in Colombia. The park was seeking new ideas on how to involve local communities and organizations working within the park as well as create sustainable income through tourism. Solimar conducted a thorough tourism assessment to gather an understanding of current and potential attractions, market demand and tourism infrastructure. Solimar also collaborated with local tourism stakeholders to raise more funds for conservation and tourism projects that will enhance the visitor experience.
Solimar performed capacity assessments of the impacts of tourism on two marine protected areas in Mauritius as degradation and resource depletion with Balaclava and Blue Bay Marine Parks have become serious problems. The assessment utilized tourism conservation models to create a series of recommendations supporting tourism development in the two parks. After completing tasks such as providing technical training in conversation and sustainable tourism management in addition to developing online media and orientation videos to increase awareness of the parks' codes of conduct, the two marine protected areas benefited from improved tourism and conservation management systems as well as a greater awareness of biodiversity's importance to tourism and the overall economy.
These are just a few of the projects Solimar has implemented that focus on conservation. However, we believe in sustainable tourism and it permeates every project we do.
For more information about a business approach to conservation, click here.
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The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is a celebration of cultural arts from exemplary destinations; destinations that are diverse, authentic, and home to living traditions—both old and new. This year's Festival highlights the cultural heritage of Peru - and to accompany the theme, Smithsonian created a symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art to emphasis the importance of culture for sustainable tourism development. The opening remarks from Richard Kurin, “Culture is what makes us human,” set the tone for the panelists to lead vibrant conversations regarding cultural conservation, intercultural communication, and the use of culture as an tourism asset for generating economic benefits.
Cultivating Cultural Industry
The first session focused on the tourism experience and how leaders of the industry can cultivate culture. Juan Luis Reus, Director of Peru Trade, Tourism and Investment Office in DC, spoke proudly of the rich cultural resources and their implications for Peru tourism. Immediately after, Nilda Callanuapa gave a vivid example of the work done at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco: the objective of the center is to preserve the weaving traditions of the pre-Columbian Andes culture. In order for the weaving techniques to stay alive storytelling to engage tourists in the Andean ways and teachings at the Center is vital.
“When I first started the project, the skill was mostly left with the elders…now, the traditional weavings support over 600 workers at the Center.” -Callanuapa
Colvin English, whose ByHand Consulting Company helps artisans all over the world thrive in the tourism industry, gave some straightforward tips on how to run a successful cultural tourism project. “Respect the artisans, have lots of opportunities for interaction and purchase, and always keep your goal in mind.”
Panelists Rafael Varon Gabai, Halle Butvin and Stefania Abakerli added meaningful comments and concerns based on their experiences, including how sustainable tourism is limited by investments and policy support, and how it might be possible to factor culture into a multi-dimensional approach to reducing poverty.
The second session, moderated by Professor Don Hawkins, is how storytelling serves, promotes, and builds culture. Senior Geographer at the National Museum of the American Indian, Doug Herman reminded us that we are still drawing from past lessons to cultivate wisdom in the present world, and stories offer us the material to do just that.
Betty Belanus, curator at Smithsonian, showed a video testimonial of how the Folklife Festival acts as a platform for telling stories outside of a local setting. The audience had the opportunity to become enchanted by the story of Ana Rees, an Argentine descendant of Welsh immigrants who maintains her connection with the past by learning her ancestors' language and most imporantly- preparing Welsh tea and baked goods in Patagonia.
Thinc Design Founding Principal Tom Hennes recounted the experience of making the Jordan Museum exhibits more relevant to its own people by connecting history and present.
“It is not about archaeology. It is about people, and it is about Jordanian people. We are who we were…and now tourists has the chance to see Jordan through the eyes of locals.” -Hennes
Victoria Pope, Editor for Smithsonian Journeys, showed us a side of tenderness and sensitivity in providing an authentic narrative for a destination. Panelist Norie Quintos, Exective Editor for National Geographic Traveler, echoed her approach. As Norie said, the world for travelers is expanding. Not just geographically, but also in terms of cultural experience. Karen Ledwin from Smithsonian Travel stressed the role of guides in forging connections between locals and visitors, and putting the stories in place for the tourists.
Our CEO at Solimar, Chris Seek, took on a different perspective and warned against negative impacts brought on by unsustainable tourism practices. He urged for more active policy and market incentives to encourage sustainable tourism development, so that local communities can receive the respect and economic benefits they deserve.
The audience contributed to the discussion through lively Q&A sessions. A major concern was how we should manage changes made to the local economic, social and cultural system. Experts pointed out that culture is not static, but rather constantly evolving.
The symposium was informative for all and presenters and panelists aliked proved that making culture a focal point in sustainable tourism is not just important, it's also profitable.
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!