It is shaping up to be a busy and productive year at Solimar. We wanted to take a moment to share a few updates with you on our current projects and officially announce the launch of our new website to showcase the latest information on our tourism development and marketing services.
In addition to our project work highlighted below, we are focusing on three new strategies designed to work together and scale our impacts.
First, we are inviting our friends from the private sector to join our new Sustainable Tourism for Development (ST4D) Alliance, which unites tour operators, technology platforms, impact investors, and some of the greatest brands in the world. This alliance will offer destinations and development organizations not only Solimar’s in-depth expertise but also a coalition of private sector partners ready to support development projects, connect products to the market, and deepen program impacts.
Second, we are taking Solimar’s extensive sustainable tourism development expertise and combining it with a technology platform to offer clients a Sustainable Destination Management and Marketing System. This platform will ensure our tourism strategies are implemented, destinations are marketed, and natural and cultural resources are sustained through the strengthening of Destination Management and Marketing Organizations (DMMOs).
And lastly, we are continuing to make the case for tourism as a development tool by highlighting the impacts of well-managed tourism and telling the personal stories of the amazing entrepreneurs, conservationists, and tourism leaders we have the privilege of working with, while giving them the analytics and statistics needed to tell their own stories to their donors, governments, and local communities.
Please take a moment to learn more about our current projects below. We look forward to working with you to harness the power of sustainable tourism to protect destinations and benefit local communities while offering visitors transformational travel experiences.
Our My Armenia Program with Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and USAID is now in its fourth year and has developed or strengthened over 50 tourism experiences based on intangible cultural heritage. We are now working with private sector partners including Airbnb, the National Tour Association, and the Faith Travel Association to introduce the destination of Armenia and these experiences to the world.
World Heritage Journeys Programme
The program is based on our Geotourism methodology, using destination storytelling to create partnerships between heritage managers and the tourism industry while creating consumer demand for sustainable travel. The World Heritage Journeys of the EU showcases 34 World Heritage sites around the themes of Underground Europe, Romantic Europe, Ancient Europe, and Royal Europe. We are now working on a new Journey in South Asia called the World Heritage Journeys of Buddha that features Buddhist World Heritage sites in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The Journeys initiative is UNESCO’s first consumer marketing platform and was recently nominated for a Webby award.
Republic of Georgia
Solimar was recently awarded a five-year USAID subcontract with DAI to support the Republic of Georgia. We are excited to return to the county where we previously developed their national tourism strategy in 2014.
In Timor-Leste, through a five-year USAID subcontract with Chemonics International, we are helping the island of Ataúro develop a destination management and marketing organization and ensure tourism is benefitting the Timorese people.
In Liberia, we are helping the Forest Development Authority develop a national ecotourism strategy that both supports conservation in threatened protected areas and spurs economic development in nearby communities.
In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we are helping the government establish a network of Royal Reserves modeled after the United States National Park System and other international best practices in protected area management and sustainable tourism.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Here in the United States, we are assisting the National Park Service bring together tourism stakeholders along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which was recently expanded East to Pittsburg, extending it nearly 5,000 miles. This eastern expansion opens up new opportunities to highlight even more unique and authentic attractions and local small businesses through our new website and map guide platform.
In southern West Virginia, Solimar is working with the Region 2 Planning Commission to develop and market a new heritage tourism corridor anchored by a proposed Appalachia Gateway Welcome Center.
Sedona and the Verde Valley, Arizona
We also have the honor of going into our sixth year of supporting the incredible destination of Sedona and the Verde Valley in Arizona. It has been a joy to watch tourism leaders continue to balance tourism growth with meeting the needs of local residents and conservation.
Sustainable Islands Platform
While tourism for development remains our focus, we are also applying our marketing and communication expertise to build online communities for our projects. We are currently assisting the Inter-American Development Bank launch the Sustainable Islands Platform, an initiative designed to make small island states more sustainable and reduce their vulnerability to climate and environmental change.
Inn at Meander Plantation
While we are steadfast in Solimar’s mission to use the power of sustainable tourism to stimulate economic growth while conserving natural resources and cultural heritage, we also recognize that consulting and marketing is not the only way we can achieve these results. Seeing the market opportunity in small scale accommodation development, management, and marketing, we have decided to launch a new division of the company focused on hospitality management and recruited a team of professionals that are managing the Inn at Meander Plantation, a historic country inn located in the foothills of the blue ridge mountains in central Virginia wine country. Together with their hospitality experience and Solimar’s marketing expertise, we are excited to invest in and manage unique small properties.