Category: Uncategorized

Discover the perfect experience for foodies, climate-conscious travelers, and those seeking genuine connections with the people and places they visit.

What Is Agritourism? 

According to the National Agricultural Law Center, “agritourism can be defined as a form of commercial enterprise that links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining and/or educating the visitors while generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner.” Agritourism typically overlaps with gastronomy tourism and wine tourism.

Farms engaging in agritourism often fall into the smaller-scale, organic category. They actively promote and support local food systems, which inherently fosters greater sustainability compared to industrialized agriculture. These types of agricultural businesses often serve as central pillars for the farm-to-table and slow food movements, embodying principles of mindful consumption and strengthening the connection between consumers and the land.

Agritourism Overview
Source: Chase, L. C., Stewart, M., Schilling, B., Smith, B., & Walk, M. (2018). Agritourism: Toward a Conceptual Framework for Industry Analysis. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 8(1), 13-19. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2018.081.016

Agritourism operators offer a diverse array of activities and cater to a wide range of interests. These offerings can vary from simple farm tours to more comprehensive experiences, such as on-site dining and lodging. Agritourism activities encompass a broad spectrum, covering elements of hospitality, education, outdoor recreation, entertainment, and direct sales, all within the backdrop of a working farm or rural setting.

Some example agritourism activities include:

  • Farm-to-Table Cooking Classes
  • Organic Farm/Vineyard Tours
  • Educational Workshops
  • Harvest or Traditional Food Festivals
  • Farm Stays
  • Culinary Trails
  • Food & Wine Pairing Experiences
  • Agricultural Work Exchanges (i.e. Wwoof)
  • Farm Shops and Markets
  • Events (concerts, team building)

Agritourism, particularly when farms use regenerative agriculture and other sustainable practices, can promote sustainable development across the globe. 

The Role of Agritourism in Sustainable Development 

Economic Benefits

Agritourism can support communities by generating income, creating jobs, and supporting local economies. In fact, one of Solimar’s destination management strategies is to foster agricultural linkages: “The development of agritourism tours and demonstrations as attractions in rural areas provides the potential for creating or expanding micro, small, or medium-sized enterprise (MSME) core and supply chain businesses, including transport, food service and products, and handicrafts.” Agritourism can significantly support sustainable economic development in rural communities through:benefits of agritourism

  1. Diversification of Income: Agritourism allows farmers and rural communities to diversify their sources of income beyond traditional agriculture. Through offerings like farm stays, tours, workshops, and events, farmers can generate additional revenue streams, reducing dependence on a single source of income and making them more resilient.
  2. Job Creation: Agritourism activities often require additional staff to cater to visitors’ needs, such as tour guides, hospitality personnel, and workshop instructors. This creates local employment opportunities and curbs urban migration.
  3. Support for Local Businesses: As agritourism develops, it creates demand for various goods and services in the community. Increased tourism traffic benefits local businesses such as restaurants, handicraft shops, accommodation providers, and transportation services.

Agritourism can support sustainable economic development by providing alternate livelihoods and promoting local entrepreneurship, particularly in rural communities.

Social and Cultural Impacts

Agritourism can also serve as a way to preserve cultural heritage, foster community engagement, and enhance local pride: 

  1. Preservation of Local Culture, Traditions, and Ideas: Agritourism encourages preserving local culture and traditions. Tourists engaging in farm experiences gain insights into another way of life, local customs, and traditional practices. For example, visiting an indigenous regenerative farm can reveal how practices like regenerative agriculture stem from indigenous worldviews of reciprocity and care and that regeneration calls for large-scale relational changes that extend beyond agriculture
  2. Cultural Exchange: Agritourism often involves direct interaction between tourists and locals. Farmers and community members act as hosts, guiding visitors through farm activities, explaining cultural practices, and sharing stories about their heritage. Through conversations and storytelling, tourists and locals exchange cultural experiences, beliefs, and traditions. This exchange of stories fosters mutual respect and appreciation for diverse cultural backgrounds. These personal interactions offer insights into the local culture beyond more conventional tourist destinations. 
  3. Culinary Experiences: Food plays a vital role in any culture, and agritourism often involves culinary experiences that allow tourists to savor authentic local dishes made farm-to-table. These food experiences serve as a gateway to learning about local gastronomic traditions and the cultural significance and history behind specific dishes.

benefits of agritourism

By facilitating these interactions and experiences, agritourism provides a platform for cultural exchange that goes beyond the superficial aspects of travel. It encourages meaningful connections between tourists and local communities, promoting a greater understanding and appreciation for different cultures and lifestyles – ultimately driving the desire for travel. 

Environmental Sustainability

Agritourism can support sustainable agricultural practices, conservation efforts, and biodiversity preservation:soil health

  1. Sustainable Land Use: Agritourism often promotes sustainable land use practices. Farmers are encouraged to adopt eco-friendly methods and practices that enhance visitor experiences while safeguarding the land’s natural beauty and resources. Sustainable agriculture methods can also improve the farm’s long-term viability and benefit the environment.
  2. Environmental Conservation: Sustainable agriculture practices encourage environmental stewardship. Farmers and communities may adopt conservation measures to protect natural habitats, wildlife, and biodiversity, which can lead to positive ecological impacts.
  3. Biodiversity Preservation: About a quarter of the world’s biodiversity can be found in healthy soil. When nourished properly, soil can serve as a carbon sink by drawing down carbon from the atmosphere. Alternatively, degraded soil due to industrial farming releases stored carbon into the atmosphere, exacerbating the climate crisis.

Supporting regenerative agriculture through agritourism can be an effective nature-based solution for the tourism sector. 

Case Studies

La Ferme Tarenti is an excellent example of agritourism promoting sustainable development in Tunisia. Its founder, a third-generation farmer with roots in Denmark, returned to his family’s land and saw the potential for agritourism as his parents were moving away from farming. The farm embraces super-organic practices overseen by the founder’s mother and offers educational tours, a restaurant, and unique cheese-making workshops. La Ferme Tarenti contributes to the rural community by providing employment and supporting local artisans. They advocate for local food systems, welcome volunteers, and market through social media. Despite challenges, their dedication to sustainability, community involvement, and education makes them a beacon of success in agritourism.

Tenuta di Spannocchia, a historic estate in Tuscany, serves as an exemplary model of agritourism promoting sustainable development.  Dating back to the 1200s, it began as a rural noble family estate and later came under the Chineli family’s ownership in 1925. Over the last century, Spannocchia transformed from a sharecropping system to a self-sufficient farm with diversified crops and organic, regenerative agricultural practices. In the early 1990s, the current owner recognized the value of preserving the estate’s old farming traditions. Combining agritourism and education, Spannocchia now offers lodging, a restaurant, farm tours, and a farm store, focusing on internships, apprenticeships, and hosting educational programs. Its reputation for authenticity and dedication to local food systems have garnered community support and contributed to rural development in the region. Spannocchia stands out among the Tuscan agritourism experiences, providing visitors with genuine insights into sustainable agriculture and cultural preservation.

benefits of agritourism

Jardin d’Agaves, a recent agritourism venture in Hammain, Tunisia, originates from the vision of Roberta and her Tunisian fiancé, who sought to continue the legacy of his father, a landscape architect and pioneer in introducing agritourism to Tunisia. Established two years ago, this multifaceted business seamlessly integrates a farm/garden, a restaurant, and a beautiful natural landscape. Embracing organic agricultural practices, the farm strives for self-sufficiency while sourcing from local producers. Amidst the picturesque garden, visitors enjoy tours and Mexican-inspired cuisine prepared with Tunisian ingredients, reflecting Roberta’s heritage. Strongly connected to the local community, Jardin d’Agaves offers seasonal employment opportunities and fosters positive impact. By supporting local food systems and inviting tourists to volunteer in agricultural processes, the farm champions responsible practices and creates lasting connections. Despite marketing challenges in the rural setting, Jardin d’Agaves continues to attract diverse visitors and stands as a model for sustainable agritourism fostering rural development.

Why Should You Consider Agritourism For Your Next Trip?

There are many benefits if you choose to engage in agritourism. You can:

  • Connect with local people and engage in more authentic travel experiences.
  • Discover hidden gems to combat overtourism and experience lesser-known natural and cultural beauty. Check out another Solimar post on French agritourism to learn more. 
  • Indulge in farm-to-table cuisine for the ultimate food experience. If you care about having good food when you travel, you will probably have your best meal at the source. 
  • Learn about cultural heritage through a different lens- food is a wonderful blend of place, culture, and history.
  • Support small-scale farmers who use agricultural practices that are better for people and the planet and support local food systems.
  • Immerse yourself in the charm of nature and rural communities.

Given all these reasons, it is no surprise that agritourism is getting more popular. The Global Agritourism Network, founded in April 2023, addresses agritourism’s growing interest and potential to promote sustainable development. There is even a rise in centering farm experiences in luxury travel markets, exemplified in the Six Senses hotel chain, as people care more about where their food comes from.

Overall, agritourism is a mutually beneficial opportunity for tourists and rural communities, as it fosters economic growth and preserves cultural heritage and natural resources. Nevertheless, preserving the balance between tourism development and sustainable practices is essential to ensure long-term benefits and minimize potential negative impacts on the local environment and communities.

A special thanks to the agritourism businesses that inspired and informed this blog: La Ferme Tarenti, Tenuta di Spannocchia, Jardin d’Agaves, Molla Egër, Dynamite Hill Farms, Tapada de Coelheiros, Ridge2Reef Farm, and Mrizi i Zanave.

Keep up with Solimar – don’t forget to like us on Facebook and LinkedIn! 

Tourism for development

In a world that thrives on exploration and cultural exchange, sustainable tourism development is a strong force capable of driving positive change and fostering sustainable development. It’s indisputable that tourism provides a positive experience for the tourists themselves. Exploring new cultures and locales is transformative, but the benefits of tourism go far beyond just the tourist’s own experience. 

Tourism has proven to be a strong tool for developing countries’ economic and social development and acts as a cultural preservation method. This blog post intends to illuminate tourism’s transformative role in shaping a brighter future for both host destinations and intrepid travelers. It stresses the importance of tourism industry growth. 

Tourists connect after a shared experience
Tourists connect after a shared experience

Tourism and the Economy

Can tourism drive sustainable economic development?

A primary concern of any tourist destination is how broadening the scope of their industry will impact their economies on both national and local levels. However, recognizing that tourism is one of the planet’s largest industries illuminates the desire and necessity for countries to tap into this global market. 

Tourism contributes to job creation, infrastructure development, and economic growth. The World Tourism Association describes tourism as an “economic and social phenomenon” and recognizes how beneficial modern tourism is for developing countries and tourism’s role in local economies.

A study listed on the National Library of Medicine, expanding from 2003-2020, found that in most countries, tourism has a significant contribution to economic growth and that this economic growth has a positive impact on these nations’ tourism industries. This really illustrates the enriching cycle of economic growth that tourism can have, and when put into the context of developing countries, shows the opportunity for these countries to expand and develop in a positive way economically.

Tulum archaeological site, Mexico
Tulum archaeological site, Mexico

Tourism as a tool for economic prosperity

As previously mentioned, tourism is currently one of the planet’s largest industries. Some fascinating information about tourism’s contribution to national economies can be found on Solimar’s Websitee, such as:

 

These incredible statistics illustrate how widespread and important tourism is for the vast majority of countries on the planet. Part of Solimar’s mission is to stress the importance of a tourism presence in the world’s developing countries, as tourism has shown to contribute to a larger percent of national GDP’s in developing countries, marking the importance of growing and maintaining this industry. Careful planning and smart investment can sustain these nations’ economic development. The Cayman Islands National Tourism Plan is an excellent example of this practice; you can learn more about it here

How Can Sustainable Tourism Preserve Cultural Heritage?

When managed responsibly, sustainable tourism development has the potential to make a significant contribution to the cultural preservation of a region. Many tourists actively seek authentic and immersive experiences that allow them to engage with local culture and traditions. By attracting visitors to unique destinations and facilitating cultural exchange, tourism becomes a powerful tool that generates awareness, appreciation, and financial support for local traditions and heritage. 

This, in turn, incentivizes regions to actively preserve their cultural artifacts and traditions to benefit from the economic opportunities that tourism brings. By recognizing and prioritizing cultural preservation, destinations can strike a balance between tourism development and preserving their cultural heritage, ensuring the benefit of present and future generations. 

Mont Saint-Michel in France, A UNESCO world Heritage Site
Mont Saint-Michel in France, A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Official recognitions such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site title enable destinations to distinguish themselves as cultural tourism hotspots. These sites have been acknowledged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having exceptional universal value to humanity. 

Recognized for their cultural, natural, or mixed significance, UNESCO World Heritage Sites enjoy protection and preservation through funding and regulation. Moreover, this prestigious title significantly boosts tourism inflow. In fact, in China, having a site inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site leads to an approximate 8% increase in tourism inflow.

Solimar understands the pivotal role of cultural preservation as a catalyst for positive tourism growth. That’s why they actively strive to preserve and stimulate cultural heritage practices and sites. In Morocco, Solimar addressed the challenge of limited direct selling and personal connection between Moroccan artisans and foreign buyers by creating artisan and cultural heritage routes in Fez and Marrakech. These curated routes allowed tourists to visit artisan workshops, creating awareness of Moroccan culture and craft traditions. As a result, artisans could sell their products directly to consumers, bypassing middlemen. This project successfully promoted Morocco’s cultural heritage and craft traditions, attracting more visitors and boosting revenue for artisans and the overall tourism sector.

How Can Tourism Serve Community Development?

Tourism holds tremendous potential for fostering community development, positively impacting various aspects of a community’s well-being. Infrastructure development is one notable outcome of tourism. As destinations strive to attract visitors, they invest in improving transportation networks, accommodations, public facilities, and utilities. These infrastructure enhancements enhance the tourism experience and benefit the local community by providing better access to services and amenities, thereby improving their overall quality of life.

Public Trolley in Lisbon, Portugal
Public trolley in Lisbon, Portugal

Tourism can also have a significant impact on healthcare facilities. Increased tourist arrivals often lead to expanding and improving local healthcare services to cater to visitors’ needs and ensure their safety. This, in turn, benefits the local community by providing improved access to medical services and better healthcare outcomes for residents.

Education is another area that can be positively influenced by tourism. Tourism growth creates job opportunities, particularly in the hospitality and service sectors. This encourages the local workforce to acquire new skills and knowledge through education and training programs. Consequently, educational institutions may be strengthened, and vocational training programs may be developed to meet the demands of the tourism industry. In Solimar’s various projects, we prioritize workforce development through targeted training. This benefits individuals by improving their employability and contributes to the community’s overall educational development. 

Solimar recognizes the urgency of mitigating tourism’s impact on climate change to safeguard vulnerable communities dependent on tourism. Through sustainable practices and community engagement, Solimar strives to protect both the well-being of communities and the places they call home, ensuring a resilient future for tourism. 

Tourism’s Potential for Development

Tourism’s impact reaches far beyond the individual traveler’s experience. Sustainable tourism development serves as a catalyst for economic development, cultural preservation, and community growth. Solimar, recognizing the potential of tourism as a force for positive change, actively engages in projects that preserve cultural heritage, foster community development, and promote sustainability. By embracing responsible practices and engaging local communities, we can ensure a resilient future for tourism and create a brighter world where exploration and cultural exchange thrive.

To learn more about Solimar International’s current and past tourism for development projects, click here!

Blog by Thomas Freilich and Josette Apple

A scuba diver explores ocean ecosystems off the coast of Saudi Arabia

We all know the age-old story of mass tourism. You know, the one where hordes of camera-clad tourists descend upon breathtaking destinations, casting a shadow over the authenticity of this once-hidden gem. While Instagram content flourishes, breathtaking locations are reduced to mere backdrops. Even worse, local communities often miss out on the benefits of the quick stop-in of the hordes. In this all-too-familiar tale, the negative impacts of tourism become evident. 

However, amidst this sea of tourists, a new tide is rising in the world of travel. In a refreshing trend, many tourists are shifting perspectives and prioritizing more sustainable and regenerative experiences. Travelers now yearn to learn about the diverse cultures they encounter and forge genuine connections with the places they explore. 

While we can’t ignore the potential drawbacks of tourism, we aim to provide readers with hope. This new wave of sustainable tourism has the power to change destinations’ environment, economy, infrastructure, and cultural heritage.

To shed more light on this transformative movement, we will quote insights from Solimar International’s Senior Project Manager, Micah Sorum. Sorum has been at the forefront of pioneering sustainable tourism initiatives. 

So, buckle up as we explore the multidimensional impacts of sustainable tourism beyond the surface-level figures. Stick around and learn how mindful travel can transform not only destinations but also our own perspectives and lives. 

The Impacts of Sustainable Tourism

Prioritizing Environmental Sustainability in the Tourism Industry: Strategies for a Greener Future

Breathtaking photo of a snorkeler exploring the crystal-clear, turquoise blue waters of Mahdia, Tunisia.
Mahdia, Tunisia (Photo by Mohamed Ben Zineb on Unsplash)

In a world grappling with global warming, it is imperative to prioritize environmental health. Incorporating environmental sustainability will be crucial for the future of tourism businesses: one of the top five most valuable exports in over 150 countries. This entails utilizing resources to meet the needs of the present generation while conserving the world for future generations. Let’s delve into the key impacts that responsible practices can have on the environment:

  1. Conservation and preservation of natural resources: Tourism can help protect valuable ecosystems and biodiversity by actively conserving and preserving natural resources.
  2. Responsible tourism practices, respecting wildlife and ecosystems: Encouraging responsible behavior among tourists, such as observing wildlife from a safe distance and following guidelines to minimize disturbance, helps protect and respect the natural environment.
  3. Collaboration and stakeholder engagement, supporting local communities: By collaborating with local communities, tourism can support their economic development while ensuring that the benefits of tourism reach the local population. This fosters a sense of ownership and encourages the preservation of cultural heritage.
  4. Education: Tourism provides a unique opportunity to educate travelers about environmental wellness. By raising awareness and promoting sustainable practices, tourists can become advocates for environmental conservation in their communities.

When successfully implemented, these aspects of sustainable tourism positively impact the environment. For instance, tourism can help support and preserve iconic nature, generating revenue that incentivizes its conservation. Micah emphasizes that “if the environment is an attraction, then it encourages the preservation of it. It can change the community’s perspective and how they see their own resources. If tourism is set up to benefit community members, then it’s an asset to them” (Sorum, 2023).

It is essential to recognize that mass tourism has the potential to be damaging to the environment. Visitors use strains of natural resources when it exceeds the environment’s coping ability. This is where ecotourism becomes essential for ensuring the sustainability of the industry. By balancing business interests and environmental concerns, ecotourism minimizes the negative impacts of visitor use on natural resources. The tourism industry holds a unique position to educate people worldwide about environmental protection. Through responsible practices, tourism can extend its reach and inspire individuals to take action to safeguard the environment.

When considering climate change, creative endeavors to mitigate tourism’s contribution will be essential to move forward in the industry. Sustainable transportation and energy-efficient accommodations are a couple of emerging practices that will be crucial to the future of this industry. An example of sustainable tourism’s impact is in the Caribbean nations, where the renewable energy infrastructure is underdeveloped and threatened by extreme weather events related to climate change.  Solimar International worked alongside the Inter-American Development Bank to design the “Caribbean Climate Smart Islands Program,” encouraging a transition to lower carbon emissions and create a climate-resilient community.

The tourism industry has a lot of influence and opportunities to positively impact the environment. Environmental sustainability and tourism go hand in hand; one will only succeed with the support of the other. Read more here about how Solimar’s mission is to do just that.  

Empowering Communities: The Transformative Power of Sustainable Tourism

Vibrant woven baskets from Gabes, Tunisia showcasing colorful decorations, traditional patterns, and a Hand of Fatima (Hamza) pendant.
Woven Baskets (Gabes, Tunisia – Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash)

Sustainable tourism goes beyond short-term economic stimulation. It creates a positive ripple effect, transforming the economy and the lives of those directly impacted. By embracing ecotourism practices, we can unlock possibilities for communities worldwide.

At the heart of sustainable tourism impacts lies the power to offer employment opportunities. Micah notes the most impactful aspect of tourism is its ability to create jobs, “not just any job, but jobs that give people autonomy and control over the business and their lives” (2023). It’s not just about numbers; it’s about empowering individuals and families who may otherwise struggle to make ends meet. From tour operators to local suppliers, sustainable tourism creates a web of jobs that uplift communities from poverty.

Take this remarkable example in Jamaica, where Solimar developed a groundbreaking communication tool for businesses to connect with markets, funders, and stakeholders. By establishing a brand platform, creating an online training platform, and crafting business plans, Solimar raised awareness of community tourism and ensured its long-term sustainability. Through education and empowerment, the economic benefits flourished while the vibrant local culture took center stage. Solimar helped to establish and launch the Jamaica Community Experiences Brand in a way that ensures its longevity. Teaching the local community how to market themselves improves the economic benefits and culture. 

Sustainable tourism’s impact goes beyond economic empowerment. It also plays a crucial role in conservation funding. By generating revenue through responsible tourism practices, we can channel resources toward preserving the environments that attract visitors. This delicate balance between people and nature is vital for the future. Read more here about how Solimar’s work in the Cayman Islands creates a plan that bridges the gap between challenges.

The success of ecotourism in benefiting the economy depends on sustainable and responsible practices – cultural heritage and environmental health must be constantly ranked equal to economic means. Micah says this has everything to do with organization, stating that “so much of [balancing the economic benefits of tourism with the preservation of a destination’s natural and cultural heritage] is in the way that a destination has set itself up to be managed. Through DMO development, we ensure that someone is there to take over, representing local guides and gathering stakeholders for support on larger projects. We have to have an organizing unit to make it happen” (2023).

By maintaining a balance between economic development and environmental conservation, ecotourism can contribute to the overall sustainability of a destination. 

Building Communities: Tourism as a Tool for Infrastructure Development

Breathtaking winter view of the picturesque coastline in Hawaria, Tunisia, showcasing four majestic windmills standing against the lush green hills.
(Hawaria, Tunisia – Photo by Haythem Gataa on Unsplash)

When tourists visit a destination, they bring more than just their backpacks and cameras. The influx of visitors can put considerable strain on a location’s infrastructure. However, this influx of visitors can also motivate investment in a destination’s infrastructure. From a policy perspective, Micah Sorum of Solimar International says we can “look at the infrastructure to ensure tourism can grow in a sustainable way” (2023).  Here are a few aspects of infrastructure that tourism can impact:

  1. Roads: As tourist numbers rise, transportation demand increases. Local roads now serve both tourists and residents, leading to wear and tear, higher maintenance costs, and budget strains. However, this also presents an opportunity for job creation and improved infrastructure if development is responsible, benefiting tourists and the local community. In Tunisia, an emerging destination, tourists and locals alike can benefit from the Cap Bon touristic road that connects several popular destinations along a scenic route.
  2. Accommodation: The tourism boom demands new hotels and resorts but often neglects small businesses. However, staying in locally owned guest houses can support the community. Tunisia has seen a rise in guesthouses as local entrepreneurs transform unused spaces into beautiful, bookable rooms. In contrast to giant seaside resorts, these guesthouses offer locally sourced dishes and connect guests to other local experiences, ensuring that tourists’ money reaches more of the community. For example, look at Dar Ben Gacem, whose owner, Leila Ben Gacem, helps preserve cultural heritage and revitalize Tunis’s medina (traditional city) in addition to hosting guests.
  3. Utilities & Services: As tourism grows in an area, the demand for utilities such as water, electricity, and waste management also increases. Local authorities may invest in improving and expanding these services to cater to the needs of tourists and residents alike. A tourist in Tunisia would surely recognize the need for this improvement. With record-breaking heat surges, Tunisia saw its hottest summer yet. Efforts to beat the heat resulted in frequent power outages across the country from energy overconsumption.
  4. Communication: Tourism can drive the need for better communication infrastructure, including internet and mobile networks, ensuring that tourists stay connected during their travels and benefiting residents.
  5. Urban Renewal: To attract tourists, destinations may invest in urban renewal projects and beautification initiatives, making their appearance more appealing to visitors and residents alike. While these initiatives walk the delicate line between restoration and gentrification, careful and considerate planning from local leaders can ensure that communities maintain authenticity amidst renewal projects.

Preserving Communities: How Tourism Can Protect Cultural Heritage 

Traditional Tunisian woman wearing stunning gold pendant and bead necklace, vibrant top with traditional patterns, intricate henna designs on hands, matching beaded belt with gold pendants, and rings.
(Traditional Accessories in Tunisia – Photo by Seif Eddin Khayat on Unsplash)

According to Solimar International’s Micah Sorum, tourism can be “a way to preserve cultural heritage” (2023). Citing immersive experiences like artisan workshops and dance classes, Sorum argues that “tourism that’s well designed and well implemented” can be a valuable tool for cultural preservation (2023).  Tourism allows visitors to celebrate and learn about local traditions while supporting the livelihoods of artisans and performers. By visiting an emerging destination like Tunisia, travelers can engage in these preservation experiences. The options are limitless from traditional date product workshops in Kebili to tasting couscous in Tozeur. 

Additionally, Sorum explained how tourism “can fund the preservation of ruins and historical sites” (2023). Tourists’ entrance fees and contributions in a well-managed destination fund site maintenance and conservation efforts. In Tunisia, the UNESCO world heritage town of Kairouan is a testament to how tourism sustains cultural heritage. When guests explore massive historical mosques and the many other notable sites, they help contribute to their preservation, while local guides simultaneously ensure the stories of the ancient, holy city endure. 

Rooftop view of Mosque Okba (Great Mosque of Kairouan) in Kairoan, Tunisia during the enchanting golden hour of late afternoon.
(Mosque Okba, Photo by Haythem Gataa on Unsplash)

Cultural exchange opportunities foster mutual understanding between tourists and locals. As travelers immerse themselves in destinations’ customs and traditions, they gain an appreciation for their cultural heritage. Conversely, local communities benefit by fostering pride in their heritage. Finally, in the modern economy, mass production dominates the market. However, the economic benefits of cultural tourism help artisans continue their traditional practices without losing profits.

While sustainable tourism’s positive impacts on cultural preservation are evident, responsible practices must address challenges like over-commercialization. By embracing sustainable tourism, tourists can help safeguard the authenticity of cultural heritage in destinations like Tunisia. Mindful travel empowers communities, celebrates tradition, and ensures that these valuable treasures endure for generations to come.

Embracing the New Wave of Impactful, Sustainable Tourism

So, are you ready to be part of the new wave of tourism? Every member of the tourism industry, from travelers to tour operators, has a part to play in sustainable tourism impacts. It’s our shared responsibility to ensure these beautiful destinations remain beautiful for generations to come. 

Liked learning about sustainable travel and want to hear more? Take one of our courses or read more on our website today. Visit our Institute for Sustainable Destinations website here.

Blog by Isabella Hunt and Kat Selfe

ocean blue channel between two islands flows into shallow mangrove area

Climate adaptation is just one benefit of community-based tourism. Let’s learn why. Anyone who has worked in development or conservation knows that securing funding is one of the biggest, most time-consuming challenges. Tourism is one way to generate and channel funds toward local organizations fighting the climate crisis. This is especially true for community-based and regenerative tourism. Destinations with assets that attract tourists, such as rich cultural heritage and biologically diverse natural resources, are often on the front lines, requiring financing to adapt to climatic threats, from rising sea levels to increased droughts and flooding.

What is Climate Adaptation?

Climate adaptation means adjusting to the current and future consequences of climate change. Consequences include sea-level rise, reduced food security, and increased storm surges. Adaptation focuses on climate justice. This means ensuring those most negatively affected by climate change have the resources necessary to adjust. Global mitigation efforts are also necessary to cut emissions and keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. But local adaptation measures are crucial to ensuring the most vulnerable populations are safe and secure. Now let’s learn how community-based tourism can support climate adaptation. 

What is Community-Based Tourism?

According to Planterra, community-based tourism is rooted in social and environmental justice. Where enterprises are locally owned, income stays in the community, and profits are invested in local development and environmental projects. Tourism can positively impact communities worldwide by creating jobs and training opportunities. Community-based tourism is also one of many essential tools for climate adaptation because it:

  • Channels finance towards local communities and organizations
  • Supports local economies and reduces emissions from imports
  • Drives environmental conservation and ecosystem restoration efforts
small, remote island with lush vegetation and white foam waves crashing on all sides
Although Maldives has contributed little to the climate crisis, the country is on the front lines of its imminent impacts, including rising sea levels, beach erosion, and increased storms.
  1. Channeling International Finance Toward Local Communities… A Benefit Of Community-Based Tourism

orange flower shaped diagram with ‘10 business climate action investments’ in the center
CAP’s Ten Business Climate Action Investments highlight specific nature-based solutions that can help businesses adapt to climate change.

Much of the control of finance and decision-making surrounding climate adaptation is held at the national and international levels, often failing to support local actors to be active agents of change. A 2021 review found that only 46% of finance committed from international sources for climate adaptation was intended to give agency to local actors. Solimar is working on USAID’s Climate Adaptation Project (CAP) in the Maldives to scale innovative climate change adaptation solutions and enhance the climate-adaptive capacities of community organizations, local governments, and the private sector. The project, co-financed by USAID, aims to drive sustainable and inclusive growth by engaging local businesses to invest in nature-based solutions to climate change. By investing in climate adaptation, community-based tourism businesses benefit from the triple bottom line: improving revenue, enhancing community resilience, and protecting and restoring nature. 

 

Local women in B.Goidhoo, Maldives collect beach almonds from under the trees after bats have eaten the fruits and spit out the seed. They are sun-dried and cracked open with a customized axe, then sold to Island Zephyr Guesthouse.
  1. Supporting Local Economies and Reducing Emissions from Imports… A Benefit Of Community-Based Tourism

Local economies produce fewer emissions, as their products and services travel shorter distances to arrive to the consumer. Spending money with locally-owned businesses also supports the network of other local suppliers that may need more access to international markets. Island Zephyr Guesthouse in Baa, Goidhoo in the Maldives was constructed with thatch roofs made from coconut leaves and coir rope woven by local women, and its beds were built from breadfruit trees that were cut down to build nearby houses. Bread, flowers, and seasonal produce are also sourced from local growers and producers, creating synergistic experiences for tourists to see where their food is coming from. Tourists can also participate in farm tours and cooking classes. Not only are these products more authentic, but they also have a lower carbon footprint and distribute benefits from tourism throughout local communities.

  1.  Driving Environmental Conservation and Ecosystem Restoration… A Benefit Of Community-Based Tourism

By developing community-based tourism, destinations can conserve and restore the biodiverse ecosystems on which their businesses rely. Marine ecosystems in the Maldives, such as seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangrove forests, are essential for resilience to climate impacts as well as cultural heritage preservation. If locals, businesses, and visitors alike celebrate these ecosystems, it will raise awareness about their contributions to climate adaptation. The marine biologists of Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) at Six Senses Laamu began collecting data on marine life in 2011. Just ten years later, the entire atoll was designated as a Hope Spot by Mission Blue.

Visitors can experience these unique environments through various tours and experiences and participate firsthand in MUI’s research activities and community outreach. Six Senses also allocates a portion of its revenues to local conservation and community development projects. So, just by visiting the resort, guests directly fund these projects, which are crucial for climate adaptation.

ocean blue channel between two islands flows into shallow mangrove area
The mangroves, seagrass, and coral reefs of Hithadhoo, an island in Laamu Atoll’s Hope Spot, provide crucial cultural and ecosystem services.

How to Support Community-Based Tourism Businesses

The best way to support community-based tourism is by choosing locally-owned, regenerative businesses when deciding where to stay on vacation. One way to find them is by searching for sustainable tourism certifications or within membership networks with criteria for hotels, holding them accountable for environmental, social, financial, and operational standards. Some of these include:

By supporting community-based tourism, we can directly support organizations working on the ground for local climate adaptation. Channeling funds into local economies puts critical finances in the hands of organizations that can have the most significant direct impact on conservation, restoration, and other nature-based solutions to climate change.

Are you interested in learning more about how community-based tourism is an essential tool for climate adaptation? Are you a tourism business that wants to take a more active role in climate adaptation in your region? Visit Solimar’s Institute for Sustainable Destinations website today and enroll in one of our courses.

Pink cadillac car with tourists drives past colonial homes in Old Havana

The Secret Behind Thriving Travel Destinations

At the heart of every successful tourist destination, the essential role of tourism consultants operates like a well-kept secret. Their work is multifaceted and dynamic, shifting from one project to the next, each day offering a unique set of challenges. However, the proficiency they bring to international development, tourism, and marketing industries is irrefutable. As they utilize their broad knowledge and expertise, these tourism consultants carve a path toward prosperity for their clients, showcasing the undeniable importance of their role in shaping and promoting sustainable travel destinations.

A picturesque landscape of the Namib Desert.
Photo by Arne Smith on Unsplash

Picture this: 

You are scrolling through social media and stumble upon a sponsored advertisement.  It features a travel blogger playfully navigating through the vibrant, bustling streets of Istanbul or on an uplifting journey in a hot air balloon, ascending above the vast expanse of Namibia’s ancient sand dunes. Soon, you see signs of these leading destinations wherever you look. Your best friend’s parents just returned from their two-week trip to said country, or Netflix uploaded new content that contains historical, cultural, and travel insights into the up-and-coming tourist destination.

Curiosity motivates you to research the travel destination where you discover unique accommodations, adventurous tours with local guides, and local restaurants which serve authentic, mouthwatering cuisine.  All of a sudden, you find yourself at the airport convenience store stocking up on snacks and magazines before hustling towards the gate to embark on the trip of a lifetime.  You may wonder how you and millions of other tourists became inspired to visit the same tourist destination.  Why did this happen?  Who made this happen?  

The secret behind successful travel destinations is complex and cannot be attributed to one aspect.  Leading destinations require months of research, strategic marketing, leadership collaboration, and community involvement.  Large marketing budgets certainly play a role into their visibility, but in order to efficiently organize complex aspects of development and marketing tailored to the current situation of a destination, travel destinations may require the expert knowledge of sustainable tourism consultants who advise their clients on how to set themselves up for long-term success and sustainability.

What is the Role of Tourism Consultants?

Sustainable tourism consultants are creative professionals with expert knowledge in the tourism industry and destination management.  Their clients include destination management organizations (DMOs), airline and hospitality entities, local and national governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), stakeholders, and tourism boards and businesses.  By leveraging their expertise, consultants set the long-term vision and assist clients every step of the way.  Ultimately, sustainable tourism consultants act as catalysts for growth, assisting in the development and implementation of effective tourism strategies.

1. How to Research and Assess a Tourist Destination

The crucial first step tourism consulting firms will take is conducting thorough destination market researchThis includes gathering information from local stakeholders to understand the client’s assets, growth opportunities, key demographics, and how the client can extend beyond their vision.  At Solimar, our consultants present clients with a summary of our findings and insightful recommendations for further expansion based on our data-driven market research.

For example, sustainable tourism consultants play a crucial role in destination assessments to understand what inspires tourists from different demographics. By delving into a destination’s historical, cultural, and geographical stories, these experts can identify activities and experiences that appeal to a diverse range of travelers. By promoting sustainable practices, these destination assessments contribute to the preservation of a tourist destination’s unique charm and ensure that tourism benefits everyone involved.

A scuba diver explores ocean ecosystems off the coast of Saudi Arabia
Photo by NEOM on Unsplash

2. How to Brand a Tourist Destination

Within the tourism industry, all leading destinations have a captivating narrative that appeals to a variety of tourist demographics.  It is the sustainable tourism consultant’s role to effectively share the destination’s story across multiple marketing platforms.  

Destination marketing, or destination branding, is an essential ingredient in a travel destination’s success because it creates destination awareness, illuminates the destination’s attractive qualities, and utilizes market segmentation methods that tailor the branding approach to the tourist demographics, which will yield the best results.  

Consider a destination that seeks to brand a specific stretch of its coastline as the ultimate hub for adventure watersports. To achieve this, the destination will emphasize and promote local businesses offering scuba diving and deep-sea fishing experiences, enticing thrill-seeking travelers in search of adrenaline-inducing activities.

The process of branding tourism destinations entails gathering essential details from these local businesses. Sustainable tourism consultants delve into their origin stories, unique selling points, and desired promotional approaches.  Next, the consultants will design and implement branding essentials, such as captivating logos, memorable slogans, and a compelling online presence.  Through a consistent brand story displayed across various platforms, they effectively communicate the area’s allure for adventure watersports, drawing in an audience of adventure enthusiasts eager to explore the exhilarating opportunities available.

3. How to Create Memorable Experiences for Tourists

All premier tourist destinations curate a variety of experiences.  For instance, Mexico is the 7th most popular tourist destination globally.  For international travelers planning on visiting the Yucatan Peninsula, they may begin researching the destination months prior.  Let’s say the tourist is a history buff; they can easily look into local guides who offer expertly designed trips to archeological sites such as Chichén Itzá.  

A local tour guide takes a group of travelers through Chichen Itza
Photo by Kentaro Toma on Unsplash

So, how do tourist destinations decide which products and experiences they will offer potential travelers?  With the guidance of sustainable tourism consultants, top tourist destinations will partner with local businesses to identify and market experiences that appeal to a variety of tourist demographics.  This entails working one-on-one with tourism businesses to design unique offerings, decide prices for their products and experiences, and forecast potential profit margins.  

For sustainable travel consultants, every detail is significant.  At Solimar, clients can anticipate a comprehensive business and product development plan encompassing evaluations of supply and demand, a sustainable business strategy to ensure recurring revenue, and a thorough training program for business owners, managers, and employees. Moreover, collaborative marketing strategies are expertly crafted to empower local tourism businesses to surpass their goals.  

A group of indigenous women from the Kavango region perform traditional styled dance
Photo by Datingscout on Unsplash

4. How to Understand the Benefits of Sustainable Tourism

A recent study conducted by Expedia Group Media Solutions revealed a growing inclination among international travelers to pursue eco-friendly and sustainable travel experiences.  With the increasing detriments caused by climate change and over-tourism, sustainable tourism consultants aim to inform destinations of how they can reduce the negative impact of tourism while increasing its benefits.  

  • Promotes environmental conservation:  Responsible tourism methods promote the preservation and protection of natural resources and biodiversity.  For example, eco-friendly accommodations will commit to sustainable operations such as using renewable energy sources, reducing water consumption, and implementing recycling and waste management systems.
  • Empowers the community:  Sustainable tourism practices benefit the local community by creating employment opportunities, funding education systems and infrastructure initiatives, and increasing the understanding of cultural diversity and equity.  Additionally, it empowers the local community by encouraging the involvement of the residents in decision-making processes and community-based tourism enterprises.
  • Preserves cultural heritage:  Sustainability is about celebrating the cultural backgrounds of the local people and maintaining their authenticity.  For instance, a sustainable tourist destination will promote authentic cultural experiences such as homestay accommodations, traditional craft demonstrations, and traditional performances which benefit those of that heritage.

If you’re wondering how to be a responsible tourist who supports sustainable tourism practices, you can opt for environmentally friendly transportation options, support the community by buying local products and tour experiences, book green and locally owned accommodations, and travel to lesser-known destinations.  

A women is bent down in a crop field participating in agritourism.
Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

Final Thoughts: The Role of Sustainable Tourism Consultants

Next time you come across a travel blogger’s captivating TikTok content featuring pristine beaches, picturesque villages, or impressive historical architecture, remember that a team of sustainable tourism consultants worked diligently with these destinations for months, if not years, prior to making it all possible.  Creating a thriving tourist destination requires attention to every detail. Tourism consultants play a crucial role in identifying the client’s unique voice and offerings that distinguish them from competitors. They establish a consistent media presence, instill successful business operations, and emphasize the significance of sustainable travel practices throughout the journey.

A wooden sign in the shape of a foot sits on the beach and represents the role of tourism consultants by stating, "only leave your footprints."
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

At Solimar International, sustainability is at the core of our approach. We firmly believe that successful tourist destinations are built upon a foundation of environmental and cultural preservation.  In a world where travel has become increasingly accessible and impactful, our team of tourism experts provides invaluable expertise and guidance to help our clients thrive.  To learn more about our tourism consulting services, visit website!

“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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