Solimar International is known globally for our significant work in sustainable tourism initiatives. Engaging in enterprise readiness schemes, developing destination management organizations (DMO), and creating responsible tourism practices, the company is leading the way in countries that have huge economic potential for tourism post-COVID. And no one is better suited to help develop and achieve Solimar’s goals than Sylecia Johnston, our new project manager and DMO Development Solution lead.
Meet Sylecia Johnston!
Sylecia’s first family trip to Israel when she was just 13 months old initiated her life and love of travel, whether it be for education, business, or leisure. Throughout her career, she has also been heavily involved in the conservation of culture, heritage, environment and natural resources.
Graduating from George Washington University with a degree in sustainable destination management, she has used her education to its full career benefit. “I’ve worked for a few different DMOs, various conservation non-profit organizations, and have sat on many boards and committees. Now, I’m ready to help establish Solimar’s DMO program on a global scale.”
Sylecia’s Work at Solimar
As a project manager at Solimar, she leads efforts and drives project communications in some of the countries that we work in. “I am one of the many project managers at Solimar, but because of the company’s reformatted structure, I am also leading DMO solutions for different destinations,” Johnston explained.
Johnston has actually followed Solimar since her days at university. “I am in my dream job right now,” she exclaimed. “Getting to step into this role at this time in my life is fortuitous. I am most excited about working with a team of individuals who are just as passionate about sustainable and regenerative tourism as I am.”
This is her first time working with international development-funded projects like with USAID, but that doesn’t mean she is going to back down from a challenge. “I’m familiar with extensive government reporting, so I think it will be an easy transition to make,” she explained.
“What is great about a DMO is that there can be various levels of organization based on the needs or capacity of the destination, from the most basic forms to hugely elaborate with multiple committees and platforms,” explained Johnston. Because it is managed by stakeholders in the destination, DMO easiness is all about how open they are to make it as best as possible. DMOs can manage a simple website with essential information or a much more elaborate program – both can be equally effective,” she concluded.
Destination Dahar and Tunisia
Johnston is working on a wide array of DMO solutions for many Solimar projects, including the work to support Destination Dahar under the scope of the USAID Visit Tunisia project. Johnston is quite familiar with Tunisia. “Previous to Solimar, I was an independent consultant, and I had a client in Tunisia, so I have done a bit of research,” she elaborated. “I’ve also traveled there for vacation before, which has allowed me to keep up with the tourism industry in the country.”
Sylecia really enjoyed visiting Tunisia, despite any western world perceptions that are projected onto the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. “There is an opportunity for bridge building and cross-cultural understanding that could take place for more western tourists to be open to traveling to Tunisia,” she added.
This perception presents an obstacle to Destination Dahar eagerly promoting the Dahar region to travelers around the world. “Dahar is a region with some of the least economic opportunities in the whole country. Many in the local communities are abandoning their villages to go to Tunis or Sfax, or migrating to Europe. The main challenge is developing a robust organization’s product offerings, experiences, tourism management, and marketing that can find the next steps to drive economic growth in the area so that people are motivated to stay.”
The hills of Dahar (Destination Dahar)
Because of her experience and some insight into the future of tourism in the MENA region, Johnston believes Tunisia is very eager and open to international tourism, especially for expanded regional strength and economic benefits through travel beyond the northeastern coastline. “Development in the MENA region will lead to more stability, and investment in the industry will help establish more business, making the destination better promoted and more open to international tourists,” she commented.
As tourist industries around the world prepare to take full advantage of a post-COVID boom, they are going to need a reliable company with a dedicated workforce to help further establish themselves on a global scale. Sylecia’s invaluable experience in the travel industry will significantly help Solimar International in achieving these goals.