Author: Stephanie Gerson

Solimar International Internship where are they now?

Former Solimar International Sustainable Tourism Internship Stories

Solimar International is a marketing firm that specializes in sustainable tourism. Three times a year, we recruit talented interns to our sustainable tourism internship to help with strategic planning, sustainability research, blog writing & communications, social media marketing, tourism development, and so much more on all of our projects. It is our goal to give our sustainable tourism interns the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to further thrive in the tourism and international development industries. We’re spotlighting some of our former interns to talk about their experiences with Solimar and where they are now! Let’s meet them:

Tesia Smith – Tourism Research Intern, current Japan and Thailand Specialist at Audley Travel

Tesia Smith is a former Tourism Research Intern at Solimar International, current Japan and Thailand Specialist at Audley Travel
Tesia in Japan

Tesia interned at Solimar International in the summer of 2007 in the DC office and in 2008 in Costa Rica. During her first summer with Solimar, she was a research intern, and had the opportunity to contribute to the Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance portfolio. She conducted research, created surveys, and analyzed data on several projects with National Geographic and Expedia. While in Costa Rica, she traveled throughout the country to various growing eco tourism destinations, collecting data and researching hotels, tours, and locations to produce content for Solimar. During the internship, she gained experience interacting with destination managers and other important contacts within the travel industry. Working for Solimar sparked her interest in travel and pursuing a career in the industry.

“The Solimar internship program really introduces you to the travel world and opens your eyes to a variety of roles which you could have in the future in the industry. Sustainable tourism and responsible tourism is becoming more and more important, and is not solely about the environment which most people think when you say sustainable. Sustainability is about the environment, but also the culture, the people, and creating an industry that helps support cultures and maintain authentic experiences. Sustainability is a lot about local laws, partnerships, and more.”

Tesia is currently working at Audley Travel as a Japan and Thailand Specialist. Audley Travel is a tailor-made travel company that customizes private itineraries. Tesia specializes in Japan and Thailand because she lived in Japan for 5 years after graduating college and her internships at Solimar, where she traveled extensively throughout South East Asia and enjoyed life in Japan. We are glad that her experience serving as a sustainable tourism intern led her to the field she is in now!

Find out more about Tesia and the work she is doing now on her LinkedIn!

Jenny Lundt – Former Tourism Marketing Intern, current Project and Communications Asssociate + director of Sustainable Tourism Internship program at Solimar International

Jenny Lundt - Former Solimar International Tourism Marketing Intern, current Project and Communications Asssociate at Solimar International
Jenny in Granada, Spain

While conducting research in Timor-Leste related to women’s livelihoods and tourism, Jenny ran into a local consultant for Solimar who told her about the Tourism for All project and gave her his contact information. Due to her unique on-the-ground experience and experience in tourism writing, CEO Chris Seek and COO Natalie Sellier (also a former intern) extended a tourism marketing internship offer to join Solimar’s first virtual cohort of interns.

She had recently graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Peace and Conflict Studies and Middle East & Islamic Studies when she started her internship. Much of her coursework was related to sustainable development, talking about inequalities in all shapes and forms. Her internship with Solimar allowed her to combine my professional and personal passions while gaining insight into a world she knew very little about previously.

The internship at Solimar provided her with access to some of the industry’s greatest minds, such as Chris Seek, as she eagerly engaged with the learning course material covering a wide berth of content. She also believes the Solimar International internship is especially unique because the company trusts the interns with significant responsibility. In her case, she wrote the content for the entire Atauro Island website based on her experience living in the country. This led to a part-time job offer from Solimar, which has since become a full-time role.

She recently wrapped up the Southern Tanzania project, her first Solimar project from start to finish. Throughout the last year, she learned how rewarding consistent effort and client relationship management can be. Additionally, as a member of the first remote internship cohort, Jenny has worked each semester to improve the experience of subsequent virtual tourism intern cohorts. Working to recruit and expand the skills of diverse and talented minds from across the world is one of her favorite parts of her job.

She writes of her experience, “With such a small, dynamic company with operations across the world, there are always a million ways to learn, grow, connect, and improve. Working with Solimar is the best job out of college I could have imagined”.

If you are interested in learning about Jenny’s work at Solimar, check out her LinkedIn! 

Jim McCaul – former Solimar International Tourism Specialist Intern, current Senior Vice President of Destination Stewardship

Jim McCaul - former Solimar International Tourism Specialist Intern, current Senior Vice President of Destination Stewardship

Jim started working with Solimar while at The International Institute of Tourism Studies’ Consulting Practicum while completing his Masters in Tourism at George Washington University. He quickly discovered that he and the CEO, Chris Seek, shared a passion for tourism and its ability to be a profound force for good in communities. The internship was a unique opportunity to utilize the knowledge and skills Jim had developed in graduate school and apply them in a real world setting, working on a tourism development project with the Namibia Tourism Board.

“The internship helped me understand how to manage stakeholder engagement processes in polarized communities riven with differing agendas and perspectives on the future of the destination. It also gave me a profound understanding of the hyperlocal impacts that tourism, when managed effectively, can have on communities.”

After his Solimar sustainable tourism internship, Jim landed a job working at Destinations International, the global trade association for Destination Marketing and Management Organizations. After nearly seven years with that organization, he moved over to the consulting world, and for the past three years has been working with destinations across North America to develop tourism master plans and other long-term strategies which balance sustainable visitor growth with the health and vibrancy of their communities.

“I believe that to be a leader in the tourism sector today is to be an architect of future economies, societies and possibilities. My goal is to work with the public and private sectors to make tourism a powerful driver of socio-economic progress in communities.”

If you are interested in learning about the work Jim is doing now, check out his LinkedIn!

Barbra Anderson, former Strategic Tourism Planning intern, current Founding Partner & Story Curator at Destination Better

Barbra Anderson, former Solimar Strategic Tourism Planning intern as a member of the sustainable tourism intern cohort, current Founding Partner & Story Curator at Destinnation Better

 

When asked why Barbra chose Solimar as her internship opportunity, she responded, “I had a mutual colleague who was kind enough to connect me to Chris. Barbra found Solimar while in a Master’s of Global Sustainability program at the University of South Florida, which required an internship. She was connected to the program from a mutual colleague that knew Chris Seek. Prior to earning a Master’s, Barbra had been in the travel industry most of her life working with various corporate firms such as Sabre, American Airlines, Hertz and Budget Rent-a-car. She left being the head of Global Corporate Responsibility for Sabre and went back to school full-time.”

After working in most segments of the travel industry, she was enlightened about sustainable tourism marketing by assisting with a once-in-a-lifetime project with the Royal Government of Bhutan.

While in the Master’s program, Barbra met her current business partner, teaming up to create a consulting firm, Destination Better. Since that time, they have partnered with companies as large as Fortune 10 to develop their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) strategies, communications, and reporting. Their clients are global and span several industries, including pharmaceutical distribution, banking, call centers/AI, commercial printing, food service, robotics, construction, and government organizations.  They also host an educational podcast, Creating Responsible Companies.

Barbra and her business partner plan to continue to build Destination Better by shifting from only a 1:1 consulting model to a 1:many model by offering masterminds, a membership, and online courses for ESG and sustainability professionals.

Barbra reflects on her time, “I have complete respect for Chris as an expert in this field and as a business leader. I can only imagine the number of students he has assisted in their careers, both inside Solimar and in his involvement with GW and local community organizations.”

If you are interested in learning about the work Barbra is doing now with Destination Better, check out her LinkedIn! 

Marina Lopes – Former Solimar destination marketing intern, current Solimar Project Assistant

a photo of Marina Lopes - Former Solimar destination marketing intern as a member of the sustainable tourism intern cohort, current Solimar Project Assistant

Marina chose Solimar because of the numerous opportunities to work within the sustainable tourism industry. Before applying, she looked on the website and found that many of the projects that Solimar was working on sparked her interest, and she thought it would be fascinating to collaborate on them. She was successful in applying to the sustainable tourism internship program.

During her undergraduate degree, Marina studied International Relations, but decided to switch to tourism for her master’s degree. She knew Solimar would be a perfect fit because she could gain experience in the new career field she was entering. She noted Solimar’s internship as a way of exploring options as to what to do after she finished school.

After completing her destination marketing internship, Marina was hired as a part-time project assistant at Solimar this fall. During her time in the internship, she got closer to some of the managers that recently invited her to come back and work in the position she is in now. Marina is grateful for all the opportunities Solimar has given her, especially when it comes to completing her masters. She says,

“It was also a delightful opportunity to start thinking about my master’s thesis through Solimar’s projects.”

She would like to keep working with sustainable tourism and development. In the future, she wants to be able to occupy a position where she can see the impact of her work in a destination or specific business.

If you are interested in connecting with Marina about her work, reach out to her on Linkedin!

Conclusion

We take great pride in the incredible interns who have worked hours per week with us nearly twenty years. Our internship program has evolved with technology, from an onsite internship program in our Washington D.C. office to completely remotely across five continents. Our former interns are involved in nearly every aspect of the tourism industry, from Destination CEOs to consultants to travel advisors, and more. We believe we offer the world’s coolest remote internship, in part because of our projects, but also thanks to the incredible intern peers you can learn from and collaborate with. Our interns have helped launch Solimar into its position as a leading tourism consulting firm.

We are now recruiting for our next sustainable tourism internship cohort. Apply today to join the team and gain real world experience in the intersection of international development and tourism: https://www.solimarinternational.com/who-we-are/join-our-team/internship-program/

By: Stephanie Gerson and Cate Enrooth

Solimar International Internship where are they now?

Picture of the Assumption of Maria Church on Lake Bled Slovenia sustainable tourism by author Stephanie Gerson

Learn about sustainable tourism in Slovenia, Europe’s hidden gem

Here at Solimar, we pride ourselves on being experts in sustainable tourism. We’ve consulted with destinations on their tourism strategies all across the world, from distant Nepal to Timor-Leste to local West Virginia.  So, when we say that a country has excelled at integrating sustainable tourism principles, we mean it. To show their commitment, Slovenia developed their national tourism strategy that coincides with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Most people may not know Slovenia apart from the picturesque Lake Bled, surrounded by the Julian Alps. It is already popular with outdoor adventure travelers, looking to hike or white water raft. It recently has turned into a destination that is perfect for anyone who wants to see nature, as well as cities without over-tourism. In 2016, the Slovenian Tourist Board implemented a program where they provide a 5-star experience while ensuring the health and growth of the local economies, communities, and environment. Here are some reasons why Slovenia is one of the leading sustainable tourism destinations:

 

Picture of the Assumption of Maria Church on Lake Bled Slovenia sustainable tourism by author Stephanie Gerson

1. Its capital, Ljubljana, has a car-free area

The city has redesigned its center to allow for pedestrian friendly movement. Only delivery cars are allowed in the area in the early morning hours. The city blocks are covered in green spaces to explore, while the artisanal pavement itself is aesthetically pleasing. The numerous footbridges crossing the river connect from one public space to the next. If you need to get somewhere quickly, they offer electric carts that can shuttle you around. One of their biggest squares is completely free of vehicles and offers a space for concerts and events. Ljubljana truly is a walker’s paradise.

2. Slovenians understand the modern-day traveler

Slow travel is the new travel trend and Slovenia gets it. In fact, they prefer it. They want you to come and stay awhile. Smell the fresh mountain air of the Julian Alps, swim in Lake Bled, explore the miles of underground caves, get to know the locals, eat the food (all the food!). There is no excuse to make Slovenia a quick trip

3. Slovenia has implemented their own certification program, insuring unity within the country

The Green Scheme of Slovenia Tourism is a tool and a certificate program designed by the Slovenia Tourism Board to help even the smallest tourist organization be more sustainable. They offer training and promotions to hotels, tour guides, destinations and interest sites. In order to be verified and obtain a Green Label, the destination or business must meet the Green Destinations Standard criteria. They can also present a similar internationally recognized label, like GoodPlace, another Slovenian company. What is the benefit of all these certifications and labels?  By following certain criteria, set up and recognized by the international community, gives credibility to the applicants. Slovenia, setting up their own certification program creates unity and understanding within their own country. Showing that everyone is in it together. 

4. National Geographic also agrees about sustainable tourism in Slovenia!

National Geographic recognizes that Slovenia is pretty special, declaring them the World’s Most Sustainable Country in 2017. This award is part of National Geographic’s World Legacy Awards, given at ITB, awarding companies and destinations who are driving the most positive change within the tourism sector. If this isn’t enough, the EU also recognized Ljubljana as Europe’s Greenest Capital in 2016. 

Garden Village Bled Slovenia website, an eco-lodge dedicated to sustainable tourism and eco tourism

Image from Garden Village Bled website, an eco-lodge dedicated to sustainability

5. With 59 cities and 83 accommodations certified as green, you can’t go wrong where you end up

If you want to explore cobbled stone streets in old cities or get lost in a tiny mountain town, they’ve made sure each place is welcoming to any type of traveler. The best part is finding the right accommodation, whether that’s a new sustainable hotel or an eco-lodge with tree houses and glamping tents perfect for families. 

picture of the bright turquoise Soca River in the Julian Alps. Showcasing the natural beauty of Slovenia. Photo by Author, Stephanie Gerson

Picture of the bright turquoise Soca River in the Julian Alps. Showcasing the natural beauty of Slovenia. Photo by author, Stephanie Gerson

6. The mountains are open and easy to get to, and the cities aren’t crowded

You don’t have to worry about over tourism or long lines in Slovenia. The mountains are green and gorgeous with bright blue rivers roaring in the valleys. It’s outdoorsy without being too rugged, unless you want it to be. Slovenia offers numerous travel experiences that one wouldn’t expect in this small country. 

Picture of Soteska Vintgar, a wooden walkway along the Radovna River in a breathtaking gorge. Photo by author, Stephanie Gerson

Picture of Soteska Vintgar, a wooden walkway along the Radovna River in a breathtaking gorge. Photo by author, Stephanie Gerson

7. They are the start of regenerative tourism, without knowing it. 

Their tourism strategy is more cyclical rather than linear, using tourism as a means to help and rejuvenate the destinations. The idea is for the traveler to leave the place better than when they came. Because sustainable tourism has been implemented into so many aspects of Slovenia’s way of life, it’s straightforward for the traveler to be another part in the cycle as well. From making sure that buildings are LEED certified, to getting the best certified tour guides, and restaurants using local ingredients, all helps to ensure that the place can be lived in by locals and visited for generations to come. It sounds like a lot but when a tourism board has a partnership with the government as well as the citizens, it makes it much easier for the traveler to be more aware of their impact, both good and bad. 

 

If you would like to know more about how to implement a sustainable tourism strategy where you live or for your business please contact us here. Or if you’re a destination, looking to enhance your DMO, take our course at https://institute.solimarinternational.com.

 

“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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