In an effort to address tourism’s impact on our oceans, Solimar partners with an organization dedicated to protecting marine resources.
The Global Partnership for Oceans, officially launched at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, is a partnership of over 100 governments, international agencies, civil society groups, and private sector companies focused on mobilizing knowledge and financial resources to address the threats to the health of the world’s oceans. Not surprisingly, tourism is one of the biggest threats to the health, productivity and resilience of the world’s oceans. Solimar is committed to addressing the problems of overfishing, pollution and habitat loss as we also address tourism issues across the globe.
Solimar uses sustainable tourism to foster the conservation and sustainable use of coastal and marine resources and ecosystems through various methods. By creating market access for small and mediums enterprises and providing incentives for those enterprises to adopt tourism “best practices,” their impact on fragile coastal and marine environments is greatly mitigated. Solimar also works to raise visitor engagement in marine conservation areas through awareness building campaigns and “codes of conduct” that target issues such as responsible seafood choices and visitor impacts to coral reefs.
In addition, resources for local tourism enterprises have also been developed by Solimar to help improve tourism products and services along with sustainability. The “Tourism Toolkit” covers everything from business planning to operations and management to sales and marketing. In addition, Solimar documented 16 unique “Conservation Tourism Strategies” that guide local enterprises on ways in which they can directly support marine conservation efforts.
Through these efforts and continued education, Solimar firmly believes tourism can not only avoid hurting delicate marine eco-systems, but actually help to promote their survival, which is why we are proud to officially join with the Global Partnership for Oceans.
Carpets, one of Morocco’s most remarkable crafts, are all intricately hand woven on looms. The carpets that are most recognizable are probably the Berber carpets. Berber carpets date back to the Paleolithic era and the hand spun cloth that was used to make the carpets are from natural materials.
Essential oils and perfumes are a very important part of Moroccan culture and are used on a daily basis as well in traditional ceremonies. One of the most coveted Moroccan oils now, especially in the cosmetic industry is Argan Oil. Argan oil comes from the kernel of the Argan tree (Argania Spinosa L), because the kernel is very hard to press, traditionally, it was fed to goats whose digestive system would remove the harder outer shell leaving the rest to pass through and the women would collect the kernel, clean them and press out the oil. Argan is an endemic species to Morocco.
Hamsa, also known as the hand of Fatima, the daughter of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, is a common symbol that can be found throughout Morocco, depicting an open right hand, which is a sign of protection that also represents blessings, power, and strength, and is seen as potent in deflecting the evil eye. This symbol is often seen in jewelry or as door knockers on homes.
The Holy month of Ramadan is a time for fasting and praying for the followers of Islam. This month happens at various times every year and lasts about 29 days depending on the lunar cycle. From sun up until sun down, believers are to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual acts. At sundown families, break the fast with a meal called Iftar. The end of Ramadan is marked by the holiday know as Eid ul-Fitr, which brings about the next lunar month, called Shawwal in Arabic.
The dramatic scenery of Konso in southwestern Ethiopia has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This will be Ethiopia’s ninth such site, meaning it has more than any other country in Africa. This occasion was celebrated in Konso with an event organized by the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, and was attended by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, UNESCO representatives, ministers, ambassadors and the private sector. Konso was awarded the honor in recognition of its unique landscape, which demonstrates cultural traditions stretching back over 400 years – many of which are still alive today.
The region’s stone-walled terraces and fortified settlements demonstrate the shared values, social cohesion and engineering knowledge of its people. They are also examples of how local communities have adapted – over 20 generations – to southern Ethiopia’s arid environment, allowing them to live sustainably in this hostile region. Groups of anthropomorphic wooden statues represent respected community members and heroic events, and stone stelae mark the passing of leaders, and determine a family’s status even to this day.
Konso is also an emerging community tourism destination. New tourism products are being developed here with the support of Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ESTA), a five-year USAID-funded project. One of these products is the Travelers’ Philanthropy Program , which gives visitors the opportunity to donate and plant tree seedlings as a way of contributing to the rehabilitation of the land. You can find out more about this and other tourism activities in Konso on the newly-launched community tourism portal www.RootsOfEthiopia.com.
Solimar is proud to announce the launch of the Roots of Ethiopia website. This unique portal promotes the wide range of community tourism products found in Ethiopia; thus helping to position it as a top community tourism destination in Africa. The website has been developed by the Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Alliance in partnership with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and Tesfa (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives), and features an array of activities including culture and nature walks, weaving and cooking demonstrations, horseback rides, boat tours and craft shopping, among others.The portal’s launch event took place in April in Addis Ababa. It was opened by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Tourism and was attended by key tourism stakeholders from the public and private sectors and across the development industry.
The core of the event was the presentation of the website and its functions. Solimar International’s Jessie McComb led this section in a fun and engaging way by describing how different types of tourists might use the website to learn more about Ethiopia and the community tourism products. She used the following real and fictional case studies:
- Ms. McComb’s worry-wart mother, who would immediately ask about health, safety, transport and travel logistics. This information is all included in the “Plan Your Trip” section, which includes detailed FAQs for first-time travelers to Ethiopia and Africa.
- Anna, an imaginary, well-traveled German tourist, is coming to Ethiopia on a package tour, but also wants to discover local culture. Using the “Search by Destination” function, which displays the community tourism destinations on a country a map, she can see which communities are located close to the sites that she will already be visiting.
- Mike and John are expatriates living in Addis, with a good knowledge of Ethiopian geography. With the aid of the “Search by Activity” function, they can quickly find a tour that will fit their interests.
Roots of Ethiopia has been launched at a key moment for the tourism market. In 2009, over 105 million Americans used the Internet for travel planning – a 16% increase from 2007- while the number of Europeans booking travel online is now approaching 50% and growing. This new web presence offers a tremendous opportunity for rural Ethiopian communities to reach internet-savvy tourists around the world, to improve their livelihoods, create much-needed employment and generate income.