Author: Alina Galiullina

Solimar International Internship

Why did I Choose to Intern with Solimar International?

Solimar international remote internship
Remote Internship with Solimar International. Photo: Jess Loiterton from Pexels.

As a recent graduate of the European Masters in Tourism Management program, a joint program with three universities in Denmark, Slovenia, and Spain. I was looking for an opportunity where my interests in sustainable tourism and social media marketing could be met. After researching Solimar International’s projects and internship requirements, it became apparent that Solimar International resonated with my passion and career goals.

I was confident that I would learn and grow a lot within this internship, as I’ve heard my friend’s positive feedback on her summer internship at Solimar International, and how her experience helped her secure a job. I was selected for a 4-month spring internship where I was assigned to work on a project in Liberia, a country of which I’ve heard so little. However, I was enthusiastic about gaining hands-on experience in sustainable tourism consulting and marketing to further my professional growth. I did not regret choosing Solimar International at all. I detail my experience below:

Overview of Liberia as a Country: Introduction to Destination

Liberia, located in West Africa, is bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and the Atlantic Ocean. As the oldest republic in Africa, Liberia declared its independence in 1847, having been established as a settlement for freed American slaves. After Liberia’s civil wars from 1989 to 2003, many Liberians fled to the USA. Despite living abroad, they felt a strong connection to their home country. So when the wars ended, many Liberian refugees returned home with degrees and skills gained in America. These educated Liberian-Americans played a key role in rebuilding and reviving Liberia after the conflicts.

beach sunsets in liberia
Beach sunsets in Liberia. Photo credit: Solimar International

Because of long years of political instability, the economy remains extremely underdeveloped, though the tourism sector holds potential for growth and diversification. Thus, in 2019, tourism contributed 9.7% to Liberia’s GDP, totaling $641.3 million. 

Tourism in Liberia remains underdeveloped with improvements needed to infrastructure, including transportation, electricity, telecommunications, and accommodation facilities. Despite these obstacles, Liberia offers a unique experience for those with an adventurous spirit. This spirit is captured in its logo, “Liberia: Amazing Discoveries,” and its brand essence, “Freedom to Discover.”

Discovering the Gems of Liberia: 

liberia robertsport and monrovia
Robertsport and Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: Solimar International

Liberia offers a unique blend of natural wonders, rich cultural heritage, and ocean experience for tourists to explore. This country is rich in wildlife, biodiversity, history, and a deep connection among its people. 

Here’s a brief tourist’s guide to some of the must-see attractions in Liberia:

Natural Attractions:

  • Mount Nimba: Liberia’s tallest peak at 1,362 meters, offers stunning views and diverse wildlife in its lush rainforest habitat.
  • Kpatawee Waterfals: A refreshing cascade nestled in the countryside, accessible via a scenic hike through the forest.
  • Sapo National Park: One of West Africa’s last remaining primary rainforests, home to chimpanzees, forest elephants, and other endangered species.
  • Marshall Wetlands: A picturesque coastal with rivers, sandy beaches, mangrove forests, and abundant wildlife.

Cultural and Historic Sites:

  • Liberian National Museum (Monrovia): Showcasing Liberia’s cultural heritage and history through exhibitions and artifacts.
  • Providence Island: A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the landing point for freed American slaves.

Ocean Experiences: 

  • Robertsport: Known as the “jewel of Liberian surfing,” with year-round warm weather and excellent surf conditions.
  • Sport fishing in Liberia is the ultimate dream for any angler, offering the chance to catch five species of fish within 24 hours.

Developing Tourism and Promoting Liberia as a Destination: Project Overview

Liberia has some of the last large areas of the Upper Guinean Rainforest. These forests make up over 40% of the remaining forests with the highest levels of biodiversity. Therefore, Liberia received assistance from the USAID Conservation Works activity to protect these areas. This project was carried out collectively by a group of partners. They aimed to manage protected areas and work with local communities. Above all, they focused on promoting economic growth through sectors like tourism.

As an intern, I worked on the USAID Conservation Works activity with Solimar International, partnering with the Liberian Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism (MICAT). I supported the implementation of Liberia’s Tourism Marketing Plan and Branding Strategy through developing content for Liberia’s official tourism website, EnjoyLiberia.Travel, and assisting with Conservation Work’s Market Readiness Program by guiding small businesses in digital marketing. 

By 2025, the aim is for Liberia to become a fast-growing destination. It seeks to have well-developed tourist facilities and high-quality tourism products for adventure seekers, both internationally and domestically. The plan focuses on leveraging digital marketing strategies and optimized content. This will boost Liberia’s online presence and attract potential visitors. Additionally, Solimar International works closely with local communities. They foster workshops and develop sustainable tourism opportunities that showcase Liberia’s natural and cultural attractions.

sandy beaches in liberia
Beaches in Liberia. Photo: Solimar International

Main Tasks Accomplished as an Intern: 

Creating Tourism Content for Solimar International’s Website

  • Developed a blog titled Present and Future of AI Evolution in Tourism,” highlighting future trends, pros, and cons of AI in tourism, with examples of companies using AI. After refining the content with feedback from colleagues, the blog was presented to the team and received high praise.
  • Learned to optimize a blog by adding keywords, meta descriptions, and improving content structure to boost SEO performance. 

Content Creation through Storytelling for the Liberian Official Tourism Website:

  • Wrote 4 blogs developing detailed destination guides for Liberia’s top attractions like surfing in Robertsport, sport fishing, cultural sites, and Liberian-made products, outlining practical travel tips and itineraries.
  • Conducted keyword research and optimized content for high-volume, relevant keywords like “Liberia tourism”, “Liberia surfing”, “Amazing Liberia”, and “Top West African” based on EnjoyLiberia.Travel website data to improve visibility and target specific audiences.

Collaboration with Local Businesses:

  • Showcased stories of 4 local brands offering artisanal souvenirs and authentic experiences to tourists, captivating social media storytelling to attract the target audience segments.
  • Featured 2 interviews with local businesses like Liberian Cocoa Corporation and Extreme Fishing Liberia, highlighting their stories and community impact in blogs for  EnjoyLiberia.Travel and providing guides for tourists to visit them.

Conservation Work’s Market Readiness Program for Small Businesses: 

  • Developed how-to guides for small enterprises on using Instagram and Facebook effectively to boost social media presence in the tourism sector.
  • Reviewed and provided feedback for 18 tourism businesses to improve their digital presence on multiple platforms across FB, IG, WhatsApp, TripAdvisor, Google Listing, and others.
  • Included valuable information in the marketing learning presentation of the Social Media Bootcamp for small businesses on how to shoot content professionally with scarcity of resources and how to create engaging content for captivating storytelling.
  • Collaborated with another intern to document changes made by small tourism businesses enrolled in the Social Media Bootcamp.
  • Developed individual how-to guides for automation and suggested text for social media sites, considering local businesses’ limited marketing budgets.

Internship Impact and Learnings 

An unforgettable aspect of this four-month internship was witnessing my SEO-optimized blog’s success. “Surfing the West African Coast: All You Need to Know About Robertsport, Liberia” was published on As a result, it inspired 11 tourists to come and surf the waves in Robertsport, Liberia. Through this opportunity, I honed valuable skills in writing structured blogs using SEO keywords and WordPress. I also gained experience conducting interviews and working in an international team. Most importantly, I learned to create engaging, informative content through storytelling and optimizing it for search engines.

Seeing my work align with and contribute to the objectives of the USAID Conservation Works, Solimar International, and the Liberian Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICAT) by attracting tourists to Liberia was incredibly gratifying. This experience has solidified my passion for using content creation and digital marketing as powerful tools to drive positive impact and promote tourism destinations and companies involved in the tourism sector. 

Learn more about the virtual sustainable tourism internship here. To join Solimar International’s internship program, simply submit an application form. Stay connected with Solimar on Facebook and LinkedIn!


Understanding the Role of AI in the Tourism Industry

In recent years, the tourism industry has witnessed a transformative shift in how travelers plan and book their trips, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology that empowers machines to learn and autonomously make decisions. This technology is propelled by natural language processing, meaning that it does not need human assistance to interact with customers, as it can simulate human intelligence. For instance, AI can solve problems, identify similar patterns, make decisions, and learn from mistakes. Particularly, businesses in the tourism industry use AI to improve customer service and perform administrative tasks.

AI has changed the tousrim industry
Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels   

Tourism development is undoubtedly an ongoing process, but how has AI changed the tourism industry? How did tourism companies implement cutting-edge AI technology, and what is the outcome? Let’s delve further into this topic to investigate.

Key Features of Chatbots and Virtual Assistants 

An increasing number of companies are beginning to use chatbots and virtual assistants to allocate human resources effectively and optimize administrative tasks. Thus, it has been extensively adopted by multiple travel companies for online customer service, personal assistants, automotive voice assistants, and more. 

Essentially, a chatbot is a subset of virtual assistants that focuses on conversational interaction, while virtual assistants include a broader set of features and capabilities beyond chatbot communication.

Features of Chatbots and Virtual Assistants on Travel Platforms
Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels

Here are some tasks that chatbots and travel assistants can do:

  • Assist in booking flights, hotels, and accommodations
  • Provide real-time information on prices, availability, and promotions
  • Answer travel-related queries and offer destination recommendations
  • Streamline booking processes and handle reservation modifications
  • Deliver updates on travel itineraries
  • Offer customer support for concerns and unforeseen changes
  • Ensure a seamless communication channel for users throughout their journey
  • Contribute to simplifying and personalizing the travel experience on platforms

Implementing chatbots and virtual assistants in travel platforms is a versatile tool, offering assistance throughout the entire travel journey—from initial planning to post-trip feedback.

How AI Revolutionizing the Tourism Industry

As the tourism industry continues to evolve, the integration of AI introduces a conversational interface that allows travelers to learn about destinations, seek recommendations, and obtain real-time assistance during trip planning. In the past, preparing for a trip used to consume countless hours for the traveler. In our digital era, there is no more need for that, and AI has solved this problem.

Using AI in the tourism industry

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels

Let’s illustrate how AI has changed the booking process in the tourism industry:

  • Booking Affordable Flight Tickets

Consider a scenario where a traveler seeks to purchase flight tickets at the most reasonable price. By enlisting the assistance of an AI, the traveler can inquire about today’s flight prices, compare them with historical trends, and monitor any fluctuations. This empowers travelers to make informed decisions about when to book confidently and at the best price.

  • Hotel Selection 

Another situation is when a traveler asks an AI assistant to find a hotel in Paris for one week for a family of 3 people+2 dogs with the requirement that the location is in the city center, equipped with a pool, and pet-free. Rather than navigating through an overwhelming array of hotel descriptions, travelers can efficiently choose from a curated list generated by AI. Additionally, travelers can ask questions regarding the weather forecast, tourist attractions, etc. 

  • 24/7 Travel Assistance 

The AI assistant is available around the clock, allowing travelers to quickly resolve issues with their travel plans, saving time and avoiding long hotline waits.

Benefits of Implementating AI/ChatGPT in the Tourism Industry

More travel companies are integrating AI into their operations to provide a more intuitive and personalized experience., in particular, has recently incorporated the AI Trip Planner on its travel platform to enhance user interaction and deliver recommendations based on individual preferences.  

Another well-known travel company, Expedia, has launched its app powered by ChatGPT. Peter Kern, the Vice Chairman and CEO of Expedia Group, underscores the importance of this integration, stating, “Every great trip can be made or lost while planning and shopping.” By implementing ChatGPT, companies can make booking more informative and easier for travelers. This ensures that travel businesses no longer lose customers due to operational inefficiencies and workforce limitations.

Furthermore, integrating AI can significantly enhance companies’ online visibility cost-effectively. Instead of incurring expenses on hiring social media managers for content creation, businesses can seamlessly incorporate AI technology into their operations, potentially replacing traditional roles. This shift is crucial for small and medium enterprises and destination management organizations operating on limited marketing budgets. By leveraging AI in content generation, these entities can efficiently manage their online presence, ensuring a strategic and economical approach to marketing.

Drawbacks of AI in the Tourism Industry

While AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants have undeniably enhanced customer service in the tourism industry, they have notable drawbacks. For travelers lacking proficiency in technology or individuals with disabilities, these AI applications may create barriers, emphasizing the need to ensure accessibility and inclusivity for all travelers. Another drawback is that AI replaces human tasks with machines, such as chatbots, that assist customers. While this enhances efficiency, it also results in the displacement of human jobs. Achieving a balance between technological advancements and preserving the human touch in tourism is a challenge that requires careful consideration. 

Moreover, using AI in the travel industry raises valid data privacy and security concerns. AI systems gather and analyze extensive traveler data, encompassing personal details, travel habits, and preferences. This accumulation of sensitive information introduces a potential risk of data breaches or misuse. To address this concern, travel companies must prioritize robust cybersecurity measures and adopt transparent practices in handling data. By doing this, travel companies can protect their customers’ private information and build confidence in using AI in the travel industry.

AI in the Tourism Marketing 

In today’s digital era, AI is a game-changer in tourism marketing. Predicting customer behavior and preferences is crucial, and AI emerges as a vital tool for personalizing data and fostering closer connections between customers and businesses. This underscores the widespread integration of AI across various industries. For instance, in the tourism industry, it can help to analyze extensive amounts of information, identify similar travel patterns and trends, and forecast the behaviors of future travelers. For example, AI can shortly analyze data from previous years provided by the World Tourism Organization, outlining peak tourist demand for the upcoming year in a specific destination.

The utilization of  AI is essential for tourism marketers, as it aids in attracting a specific audience, interacting more effectively with visitors, and optimizing ad budgets. It is noteworthy to mention that launching a tourist product requires in-depth knowledge, and with AI tools, this becomes possible. AI tools can track online tourist activity on social media, providing tourism marketers with valuable insights into public opinions.

how to use AI in tourism marketing
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Future of AI in Tourism 

future of AI in tourism
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels

Looking ahead, there is a promising outlook for the advancement of AI in trip planning. There is a future where AI swiftly rectifies bookings during changes or cancellations and proactively identifies issues before travelers even notice them, providing proactive solutions. This heightened level of seamless integration could involve consolidating travel, accommodation, and other bookings into a single payment system. In this scenario, if a flight experiences delays, the AI would automatically adjust the airport pickup schedule and notify the hotel, all without requiring any action from the traveler. 

The momentum of AI integration is rapidly increasing, bringing us closer to a future where hotels’ virtual butlers are aware of travelers’ preferences upon entering a room, and self-driving taxi cars and shuttles become commonplace. With automated processes like check-in and bag-drop and face-recognition technology at airports such as Amsterdam and London, there’s no need to face front desk agents or customs officers directly. This outlines a future where AI not only streamlines the travel experience but also foresees and tackles potential challenges, enhancing overall efficiency and creating a more seamless journey. 

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“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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