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In just a few short weeks, Solimar’s Promart (Promotion d’Artisanat) Project will see the culmination of months of hard work with the placement of orientation and interpretation signs along the newly-created circuits in the Medinas of Fes and Marrakech. Medinas, translated as “the old city,” are the historic Arab sections of North African cities known for their artisan wares. The circuits are established pedestrian routes that will guide and inform visitors as they explore the art, history and culture of the Medinas. 

Six thematic circuits are being created in Fes: Monuments and Inns, Artisans, Fes Jdid, Palaces and Gardens, Knowledge and Knowhow, and Walls and Ramparts. There will be five circuits in Marrakech: Iron and Clay, A Thousand and One Doors, The Art of Wood, The Leather Route, and One Souk to Another. The circuits highlight the architectural, cultural and historical gems that these two Moroccan cities have to offer. 

Each circuit showcases the types of crafts that can be found in the Medinas – leather goods, wood carvings, mosaic tiling (zellige), metal works and pottery. The historical monuments found along the circuits date back to the 9thcentury and were built by artisans themselves. These edifices show the extreme attention to detail, the complexity of the craftsmanship and the expertise and talent that Moroccan artisans possessed to create such beautiful works of art. 

The inauguration of the artisan themed tourism circuits will take place in Marrakech on March 18-19, and in Fes on April 1-2. These two-day events will bring together all the project partners, artisans, artisan associations, international tour operators, local travel agencies, and media. An official ceremony will be held along with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the beginning of a circuit in each city.  

A press trip, a familiarization trip and a Business-to-business workshop will also be organized during these two days to introduce the new tourism circuits as well as highlight the marketing and promotion tools that will be used. The online promotion and social media campaign has already experience early success. In just two months, the Visit Medina Facebook page has reached over 3,400 fans. Plans are currently underway for a website and interactive map, printed map, and Medina-specific guidebooks. 

Solimar is very pleased to be working on this project and looks forward to the official launch of these products over the next few weeks. To learn more about how we could help your destination or tourism project with circuit or route development, visit this page

Morocco Project

Lucia Prinz and I are currently in Colombia completing a tourism sector assessment along Colombia’s Pacific coast for the USAID Colombia BIOREDD+ Program (Biodiversity – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

Sustainable Destination Development in Utria
Sustainable Destination Development in Utria

Tourism sector assessments help destinations and development organizations plan strategically for tourism development. Similar to a feasibility study or value chain analysis, the purpose of a tourism sector assessment is twofold: it provides an analysis of the competitiveness of a region as a tourism destination and it helps deliver recommendations for the implementation of next steps toward tourism development. Solimar’s tourism sector assessments help projects, destinations, and individual enterprises get set up for success.

BIOREDD+ is an innovative USAID program reinforcing Colombian efforts to sustainably manage and utilize environmental assets in mitigating and adapting to climate change, preserving biodiversity, and promoting economic growth. BIOREDD+ plans to implement a set of activities to strengthen community ecotourism in the Nuquí (including Utría National Park) and Bahía Malaga (including Urambá National Park) areas on the Pacific coast. 

In both areas, government and private institutions have recognized sustainable tourism as an alternative livelihood for local communities, one that promotes environmental awareness and conservation.

Solimar is providing BIOREDD+ with a sustainable tourism strategy that includes a comprehensive approach for strengthening community-based tourism development in Nuquí while improving products and services in Bahía Malaga that are tied to biodiversity conservation.

We’ll be providing the following information as part of the site assessment:

  • Market Demand

  • Attractions Inventory

  • Infrastructure and Services

  • Supply and Competitiveness

  • Human and Institutional Capacity

  • Socio-economic Considerations

  • Environmental Considerations

  • Value Chain Analysis

To learn more about how Solimar can assist you with a tourism sector assessment, check out our tourism assessment Ebook:

Before you embark on your next adventure, take the time to view Gringo Trails. This feature-length documentary, directed and produced by American anthropologist Pegi Vail, sheds insight on the unanticipated impact of one of the world’s most powerful globalizing forces—tourism.

Gringo Trails illustrates three cautionary case studies that reveal the devastating effects tourism can have on local cultures and the environment: one deep in the Bolivian Amazon, another on the Salt Flats of Bolivia, and the third on Thailand’s small island, Ko Pha Ngan.The film flashes back to a 21 year old backpacker, Costas Christ. Eager to find a tourist-free island paradise, Costas travels off the “gringo trail” to the small island of Ko Pha Ngan. It is 1979 and during his month on Haad Rin Beach, Costas finds his paradise—authenticity. The film then jumps forward to 1999 showing Haad Rin Beach jam packed with over 10,000 people celebrating New Year’s Eve. This once pristine and secluded beach is now home to the famous Full Moon Festival, which attracts thousands of travels from across the world. Local businesses have flourished but socio-cultural and environmental aspects of Ko Pha Ngan are devastated.

As a local Thai admits, in Ko Pha Ngan, it is too late. Sustainable tourism development requires a thorough assessment. Context is key. This is why Solimar International stresses the importance of strategic planning, particularly destination assessments. Destination assessments provide in-depth analysis of the competitiveness of a region as a tourism destination and are key to identifying the next steps in sustainable tourism development.

Time and again throughout Gringo Trails, the viewer comes across tour operators, guides, and travelers who are not properly trained in sustainable tourism practices. The deterioration of the Salt Flats and the decreasing anaconda population in the Bolivian pampas, are partly due to a lack of professional training and education. Strategic planning can only be carried out to full potential if the destination has a trained workforce and educated travelers. Recognizing the instrumental role education has in cultivating sustainable tourism, Solimar works deeply to promote specialized training and education services geared toward sustainable tourism.

The case studies depicted in Gringo Trails demonstrate the importance and significance of sustainable tourism. Pegi Vail leaves the viewers with hope, as she takes us to a small indigenous village in South America where well-planned tourism development has proved to be a positive force in the village’s economic and social development as well as its environmental and cultural conservation. Gringo Trails truly is an eye-opener for the conscious traveler.

Gringo Trails made its theatrical release September 4-11 at Cinema Village in New York City. For a full list of screenings visit gringotrails.com/screenings.

 

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.
“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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