Tag: solimar international

travel writing internship

Solimar International is proud to introduce our Summer 2022 Virtual Travel Writing and Sustainable Tourism Internship Cohort! This semester’s cohort features 18 talented individuals with a shared passion for sustainable development and tourism. As you’ll read, each intern possesses unique backgrounds and experiences that will be incredibly impactful to our work. By providing these interns with real-world experiences across several of our current projects, we hope to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to go forth as leaders of the industry. 

Meet Our Interns:

photo of Hannah McDonnell Solimar International virtual travel writing and sustainable tourism internHannah McDonnell is a Masters of Politics student at University College Dublin, specializing in European politics and integration. She has also studied these subjects at Charles University in Prague. She is extremely passionate about researching and writing, and hopes to pursue a career in research after graduating this summer. She loves to travel and learn about the cultures of the countries she visits. 

 

 

 

 

Photo of Veronica Santapa Solimar International virtual sustainable tourism and travel writing internVeronica Santapa is from Milan, Italy but moved to England 11 years ago where she has worked in various business operation support roles. Just as Covid-19 arrived, she decided to take on a new challenge and get into higher education. She is currently pursuing a degree in Tourism Management from the University of Greenwich in London, as well as learning Spanish. Since following a course on sustainable tourism in her First Year, she found herself hooked on the topic and wishes to contribute to the sustainable tourism practice whilst pursuing a passionate career in tourism management. She also enjoys traveling to new places and is an outdoors enthusiast. She is excited to join the internship program to learn more about how Solimar approaches sustainable tourism with each project.  

 

 

Photo of Bertuğ Kıymaz Solimar International virtual sustainable tourism and travel writing internBertuğ Kıymaz, from İzmir, Turkey, is a candidate for Tourism Development and Culture joint Erasmus Master’s degree at the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, University of Malta, Lund University in Sweden, and Wageningen University in the Netherlands as a European Commission council Scholarship awardee. He also holds another master’s degree in Settlement Archaeology at the Middle Eastern Technical University in Turkey, where he is currently writing his dissertation on Digitization of Cultural Heritage. Prior to his studies, he had worked in archaeological excavations, museums, and as a tourist guide for three years all around the world. His interest in sustainable tourism began after he had seen the grave impacts of mass tourism on his hometown at a young age. That is when he decided to build a career in sustainable tourism. Now he wishes to make a change, and he is ready to translate academic knowledge into real-world expertise with an internship with Solimar International.

 

 

Photo of Miles Rieker Solimar International virtual sustainable tourism and travel writing internMiles Rieker was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is a rising Second Year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and will be applying to the Business School in the fall. He loves all things outdoors, and his favorite activity would have to be going on his boat either to fish or to ride around and enjoy the scenery. He has traveled to Kenya twice before and hopes to return to the country he fell in love with at some point in the future. In Kenya, he volunteered on a dairy farm that funds the operations of a nearby all-girls boarding school. With this global experience, Miles hopes to add enthusiasm and drive to this Solimar team, in order to develop the economies of the surrounding areas of the projects. 

 

 

 

Photo of Stephanie Romero Solimar International virtual sustainable tourism and travel writing internStephanie Romero is a graduate student at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She is currently working for her Master’s in Tourism Development. Prior to working toward a tourism degree, Stephanie was an education major in her native California. She worked as a kindergarten teacher for five years before deciding her calling was elsewhere. This is Stephanie’s second year working with Solimar International as an intern, having loved it the first time around. The experiences gained from working with Solimar helped develop her interest in tourism development as a driving force for benefiting the many.

 

 

 

Intern Ethan BollertEthan Bollert is a recent graduate of Central Washington University, earning his bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management, with a Tourism Management Specialization. His schooling gave him insight into managing various sections of the travel industry including hotels, airlines, music festivals, tour operations, and destination management organizations. Additionally, his work as the university’s marketing photographer gave him the skills needed to understand content creation and digital marketing.  After wrapping up his degree with his thesis on the effects of safari tourism on the communities of East Africa, he recognized the impact that work centered around sustainable and ethical tourism development could have, which has led him to pursue it as a career. He wishes to begin this career by working alongside this group of fellow interns here at Solimar International. When he is not working, he spends most of his free time researching dream destinations, planning fun travel itineraries, or continuing his hobby as a freelance photographer

 

Intern Izabela SojaIzabela Soja is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in International Tourism Management at the University of Lincoln in the UK. For Master’s, she plans to study Sustainable Development as she would like to learn more holistically about sustainability and environment in general. She is originally from Poland, but moved to the UK almost 2 years ago. She is passionate about all things travel, research, social media and content creation, which is why she is so excited to be joining Solimar International this summer! Her favorite travel memory to date is when she went on a cultural exchange programme with Camp America where she worked for 3 months as a counselor at an American summer camp in North Carolina followed by a 3 week journey around the States. She hopes to make a real difference in the tourism industry and to promote sustainable and responsible travel as the only way forward.

 

 

Intern Isaac HerzogIsaac Herzog is a Senior at Cornell University double-majoring in China & Asia Pacific Studies and Linguistics. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Isaac has a deep love for travel and global connectivity and takes every opportunity possible to meet new people. In his travels, he has learned six languages and hopes to continue learning new ones. Eventually, he plans to move to Spain or China to pursue a career in policy, sustainability, or politics. Isaac is excited to learn from the expertise at Solimar and gain a deeper, more sustainable understanding of our world during his internship. He looks forward to contributing to the Southeast Asia team, specifically in Timor-Leste, and hopes to use his knowledge and skills to benefit the community.

 

 

 

Intern Ece ZivraliEce Zivrali is a professional tour guide from Turkey. Her love for traveling and appreciation of the destinations, nature, and cultures led her to continue her studies on sustainability and responsible tourism. Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Florida as a Fulbright scholar. She hopes to combine her academic background with the practical experience she will gain during her internship at Solimar International to improve the quality of destinations and communities.

 

 

 

 

 

Intern Teona ZhuzhunadzeTeona Zhuzhunadze comes from Georgia. She lives in a southern region of Georgia – Samtskhe-Javakheti and manages the Marketing and PR directions of the Destination Management Organization of the Region. Apart from managing social media channels and the website of the organization, she is involved in tourism product development and promoting the region to different stakeholders. She is actively involved in the tourism development activities of the country. Teona changed her career path a few years ago when she moved to her hometown and started working in the industry. After taking the DMO development program led by Solimar International in 2020 she had a chance to continue working with the organization on different projects. She was so interested in tourism development that decided to pursue an internship with Solimar. Before DMO, she was working in the field of higher education administration. She has an MA in higher education administration and currently, she is pursuing her PhD in higher education management.

 

Intern Dalia HammadDalia Hammad is a Palestinian/Jordanian communications and content professional working with an international NGO that designs and implements economic development interventions, including tourism value chain development. Over the last three years, she contributed to creating new economic opportunities for local communities along the Jordan Trail as well as facilitating local, experiential, and sustainable tourism development by curating new travel experiences and marketing the destination at large. She is an avid solo female traveler herself who really believes in the power of tourism to build bridges and celebrate differences. Ultimately, Dalia strives to employ travel as a tool to improve livelihoods, create new jobs, protect the environment, conserve cultural heritage, and further tolerance, respect, inclusion, and harmony.

 

 

Intern Annie CombsAnnie Combs is a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Bren School of the Environment. Her journey into the world of sustainable travel began when she worked in Ostional, Costa Rica as a Sea Turtle Research Volunteer for voluntourism company, BIOMA Travel. While living with her host family, she developed a deep love for Costa Rican culture that enhanced her desire to protect the landscapes that her new friends called home. She went on to work for a travel management company where she gained valuable insight to the unsustainable world of mainstream tourism. Her love of travel seemed to promote environmental degradation, but she knew that there could be another way. Annie set out on a mission to make the travel world a better place. She studied abroad in Ireland where she developed a better understanding of sustainability in business and took on a career in tech marketing to hone her communication skills with the goal of one day working to help tourism operations become more eco-friendly. She looks forward to combining her three passions: business, travel, and sustainability, during her internship with Solimar this summer. Annie holds a BA in Environmental Studies with a Minor in Professional Writing for Business from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She is currently obtaining a Master of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Bren School of the Environment. Her thesis project explores the importance of destination marketing and management to ecotourism businesses in Ecuador. 

 

Intern Deanna ElliottDeanna Elliott is a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Bren School of the Environment. She became interested in sustainable travel when she took a class on ocean conservation and sustainable fisheries in undergrad at Arizona State University. The trip to La Paz, Mexico that came with that class opened her eyes to the possibilities of locally sustainable tourism as a means of environmental and economic development in travel destinations. Deanna graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University in 2020 with a BS in Biological Sciences focused on conservation biology and ecology. During that time, she did research into the effects of climate change on agricultural pests, as well as whether the accumulation of heavy metals in fish could provide insight into the health of trophic webs. She is currently working on her Master’s of Environmental Science and Management at the Bren School. Her thesis project is intended to generate a tiered system of criteria for environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability based on the level of development and capability of individual destinations. Deanna is excited to gain valuable industry experience during her summer internship with S
Solimar.

 

Intern Sanjana PatelSanjana Patel is an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Growing up in Panama City Beach, Florida, she has always been surrounded by the tourism industry and has seen how impactful it can be, especially after witnessing her local community recuperate from the BP Oil Spill and Hurricane Michael. Sanjana is the founder of Pathway to Progress, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to combating gaps in rural healthcare and education through various initiatives in India, Malawi, and her local community. Through this internship, she looks forward to learning how to integrate her experiences in tourism and international development.

 

 

 

Learn more about our internship program and apply for the Fall semester here.

digital marketing displayed in times square

The digital era is synonymous with a time of constant change. Innovations are transforming industries at incredible speed. The travel and tourism industry is no exception. Technology is driving the way in which travellers are searching, accessing and consuming travel content. But how much has the industry changed? Find out below! 

digital destination marketing remote beach vacation

According to Wex’s US Travel Trends Report 2019, technology influences the imagination and preparedness of travellers today – this cannot be overstated. More recently, Google Trends insights highlighted that the pandemic has resulted in consumers having even higher digital expectations.  They have adopted new digital habits, and changed their online behavior as a result.  Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) therefore need to understand the value of digital destination marketing as an essential part of the marketing strategy. Digital is now the norm and a tool to reach consumers around the globe.

Digital marketing refers to all marketing that uses an electronic device or the internet.

But, what is digital destination marketing?

According to HubSpot, digital marketing refers to all marketing that uses an electronic device or the internet. Today, 65% of global travel and tourism sales are made online (Statista 2021), leading digital marketing to be even more important than traditional marketing. DMOs can creatively engage with potential visitors to raise awareness for its products and services, increase visitation, and maximize benefits for all its stakeholders. 

Now more than ever, digital destination marketing matters. Destination Management Organisations are facing high competition for tourism dollars.  They must not only find the right customers, but they also must standout, inspire, and engage them in the most effective and efficient way. Digital marketing facilitates these goals.  

What is the value of digital destination marketing?

1. From local to global 

As DMOs look to grow visitation, targeting new geographical markets are a logical step. Digital marketing brings a destination’s products and services to an audience anywhere in the world.  Whether prospecting for new visitors using social media campaigns, or launching a paid search campaign, a destination can expand its presence beyond its immediate geographical vicinity.

2. Focused targeting

Using detailed customer data, perhaps from its website, DMOs can position its offering directly in front of its ideal consumer, that is, the audience which is highly likely to be interested. Messages can be personalized to increase the level of engagement with different segments. This reduces the wastage experienced in traditional marketing where one broad message is used to target everyone. Solimar’s work with destinations like Namibia integrates digital platforms in the marketing strategy to enhance the country’s awareness to its targeted audience.

3. Improved measurability

Tracking the results of traditional marketing activity is near impossible. With digital marketing, DMOs can see detailed performance throughout the life of the campaign. They can see precisely which activity is achieving their goals, and use this data to drive revenues and increase profitability.

4. Campaign agility

Due to its very nature, digital campaigns allow companies to make improvements at any point. Close monitoring provides data in real time and adjustments can be made rapidly. As a result, funds are spent smarter with less wastage. 

Virtual reality transports travellers to the destination through a multi-sensory experience

What are the top digital marketing trends to inspire a DMO’s strategy in 2022?  

1. Everything must be mobile, mobile, mobile

According to 2018 Google research, 45% of US and 48% of UK smartphone users are comfortable using a mobile device to research and book their entire trip to a new travel destination. Therefore, a ‘mobile first’ strategy is essential. DMOs will want to ensure that any action which they inspire consumers to take online, is easy to achieve on a mobile device. 

2. Content is King 

Content is at the heart of digital marketing. It refers to everything from text and images to video and audio, and more. It has the potential to increase search rankings, drive visibility to the right audience, enhance brand image and build brand authority. As travellers do more streaming and posting of content online, DMOs can reap big rewards with storytelling which showcases the authenticity of its products and services.

3. Go virtual

Accelerated during the pandemic, virtual tours are used to transport travellers through a multi-sensory experience. Viewers get an immersive pre-travel experience without leaving their home. DMOs can really create standout brand experiences with intriguing storytelling and short engaging videos. Even individuals who are unable to travel, can get a flavour of the destination. Virtual reality experiences can support a destination’s sustainable tourism goals, as they reduce the impact of physical footprints in vulnerable locations.

virtual reality destination marketing

4. The power of video in destination marketing

Videos are powerful. They fully immerse the viewer in a different world more impactfully than images can. Google research cites that 65% of travellers search for travel videos online by destination.  DMOs have an opportunity to create content in the format most appealing and likely to be found by potential consumers. Solimar International’s expertise in creating impactful videos was a key part of Jamaica’s successful community tourism programme. Four promotional videos, each showcasing a core theme of the community tourism experience, were launched on social media and other digital channels to raise awareness for the incredible sustainable initiative.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and, more recently, TikTok, are ideal for this.  TikTok is now mainstream – with over 1 billion active users, the average user spends 52 minutes per day on the platform. It gets the highest engagement of any social platform and is seeing the 25 – 39 age group as its fastest growing segment. The quality of the content and the collaboration with influencers are the keys to success on this platform. By offering fairly low-cost opportunities for influencers to experience the destination, museum or festival entrance, for example, the content can reach large audiences.

So, why should I care about digital destination marketing?

The value of digital destination marketing is significant. It enables DMOs to promote its products and services to a more targeted audience, it affords the use of cost-effective channels to reach wider geographic markets, and it helps to enrich content. All of these combined drives success for the destination.

Solimar International creates strategic online marketing strategies and social media marketing plans for destinations worldwide, including Rwanda and TanzaniaInterested in how we can help you with destination digital marketing? Contact us to learn more.

Solimar International tunisia tourism desert

Kicking off 2022 in New Destinations

Happy new year! As with nearly everyone in the tourism industry, the past two years have been filled with uncertainty for Solimar International. With the volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was uncertain when and if the world would open for travel again. Fortunately, we find ourselves entering 2022 as busy as ever and excited to work in a number of new destinations around the world.

Highlights of several of Solimar International’s 2022 projects include:

1. UNESCO World Heritage Journeys Silk Road

Looking to highlight precious UNESCO World Heritage sites across Central Asia, Solimar is working towards sustainable tourism development of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in six Central Asian countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan. Working closely with stakeholders from these countries, we are promoting a series of workshops to assure sustainable governance, conservation and promotion of cultural and natural heritage sites. The knowledge will be synthesized and promoted to the public in a website that will feature top aspects of each destination and local attractions. To supplement these detailed learning courses, we have brought several tourism experts to be guest interviewed. This expands upon the work we did to create World Heritage Journeys in Europe and South Asia. Stay tuned for our Silk Road site launch and start planning your trip to Central Asia!

Solimar International uzbekistan tourism project showing islamic architecture

2. Visit Tunisia

Our new Visit Tunisia project aims to increase Tunisia’s tourism competitiveness profile and establish the country as a promising destination by highlighting its cultural heritage, history and rich natural resources. Working closely with the Ministry of Tourism, Solimar is working to develop strategic planning, branding, and tourism products, including events, local businesses and festivals. The project aims to develop areas of the country where tourism is not well established yet. Working together with the public and private sector, fostering sustainable tourism innovation, encouraging new technologies, and stimulating women and youth entrepreneurship will be key factors to the project’s success.

Solimar International tunisia tourism desert

3. Colorado CRAFT

This project, in partnership with Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT), was launched to assist Colorado’s recovery after COVID-19. It consists of a series of workshops, consultancies and action plans to restart the destinations, restart industry associations and reimagine tourism in the destinations. One of the most unique parts of this project is the constant contact with the local community and working together with different stakeholders to establish what is the best way to build a better future for tourism in Colorado. Solimar has a history with this destination through our Lewis and Clark projects so it is good to be present in such crucial moments and help develop a strategy that will benefit the community.

 

4. Tourism Marketing Services for Friends of Wallacea

Have you ever wanted to participate in a unique tourism experience that has real impacts on conservation in one of the world’s most wild places?, venturing down a river deep into Guyana’s pristine rainforests to stay with an indigenous group? Now is your chance! We are working with world renowned tourism for conservation group Friends of Wallacea to bring their Warapoka, Guyana tour to market. Throughout 2022, they are offering incredibly unique opportunities to take conservation minded tourists on a truly unforgettable experience found nowhere else in the world.

 

5. UNESCO World Heritage Journeys Visit Khiva

This project, in partnership with UNESCO, aims to promote cultural tourism in the city of Khiva in Uzbekistan. The city had an increase in tourism flows in 2018 and 2019, which grew stakeholder’s interest and community involvement in tourism related activities. Unfortunately, after COVID struck, the destination observed a decrease in tourism activities. In order to recreate the momentum Uzbekistan was building in 2018, UNESCO partnered with Solimar to help rebuild the tourism sector in Khiva. The involvement of various stakeholders will be essential as we develop a destination marketing brand, website, and marketing program.

 

6. Development of a Regional Ecotourism Development Plan for the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia

Ecotourism is an important product for Cambodia, as it has the power to harness growth in rural communities, diminish overtourism in urban centers, and improve income opportunities in rural areas. With this in mind, Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment in partnership with Solimar and Emerging360 has invested in research that will help the country develop a plan for ecotourism in the Cardamom mountains. The project will consist of building a six-year Regional Ecotourism Development Plan for three priority destinations that are to be developed as hubs for ecotourism in the country. Solimar’s role will be to assist in detailed desk research about the country’s ecotourism, research on tourism products, and conduct workshops/ interviews to better understand local needs.

 

7. USAID Republic of the Congo

With a more financial and economic side, this project aims to assess potential development and investment opportunities in the Republic of Congo. It aims to follow an innovative approach of adaptability according to different phases of implementation. Solimar’s role will be to create a bridge between the tourism industry in the Republic of Congo and international investors, mobilizing experts in ecotourism to help build a sustainable tourism background and develop a National Tourism Strategy. We will also play an essential role in creating links between the private sector, national government, and local communities to identify the country’s touristic potential and improve regulations that will allow the development of sustainable tourism.

Solimar International project tourism republic of congo

 

8. USAID Liberia Conservation Works

With the primary focus on conserving biodiversity and enabling sustainable economic growth, this project aims to engage the communities in the management of protected areas in Liberia. With an innovative approach, Solimar, USAID and various partners in the field of development and conservation, want to build an easily replicable model that will promote ecosystem and species protection, facilitate equity, and increase prosperity and local ownership. This will be done through the development of a business and investment environment in the country, building tourism infrastructure and supporting activities related to the management of protected areas. We recognize the important role that tourism plays in environmental protection. Because of that, we are working towards building a path that will lead to effective policies, helping tourism maximize its potential.

 

9. New Hampshire Sugar River Region

With its newly established Sugar River Region Destination Council (SRRDC), Sullivan County in New Hampshire is seeking to position its regional offerings as a growing destination for the US market. With its vast experience in building DMOs, Solimar will work closely with the SRRDC and students from local universities for capacity building. The project will take place through various workshops that will display best practices from DMOs from the US and abroad.

 

10. USAID Bangladesh Ecotourism and Conservation Alliance

The Sundarbans forest is an ecosystem that is essential for local livelihoods and culture. The importance of the Sundarbans is recognized on a global scale, as it is the world’s largest remaining mangrove forest. The lack of regulation in touristic activity in the region has resulted in diminishing biodiversity and negative impacts against the life of fisherman who depend on this ecosystem for subsistence. Keeping this in mind, Solimar and USAID are working to build lower impact tourism in the region by mapping sites that require interventions, creating strategic plans to increase visitation, establishing a DMO and conducting campaigns that promote conservation. To achieve this, we will work closely with both the public and private sector to secure investments.

Solimar international Sundarbans project

 

 

“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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