Tag: #solimarinternational

Tunisia, destination that uses situation analysis

What is A Situation Analysis?

Tourists at destination after successful tourism strategy
A successful tourism destination requires situation analysis.

Traveling to a destination can feel like an individual journey.  But, did you know that most tourism destinations develop thoughtful strategies to ensure their destinations attract visitors in intentional and measured ways? A tourism strategy is designed to highlight a destination’s best aspects, such as food and history, while also offering solutions to tourism challenges that a destination might face, such as limited infrastructure. A successful tourism strategy is a first step to making a country safe, educational, and enjoyable for travelers. Essential to every tourism strategy is a situation analysis that details the supply and demand of tourism to the destination along with the opportunities and challenges that a destination faces using techniques such as stakeholder interviews, online data analysis, and on-the-ground assessments. 

Why is a Situation Analysis Important?

The tourism industry is a critical source of  jobs and economic growth, as well as a decisive factor in a nation’s sustainable development. While a tourism strategy is necessary to help develop tourism, a cookie-cutter approach will not be effective at addressing each destination’s unique circumstances.  Thus, individualized situation analyses are critical for creating an effective tourism strategy. In this blog, we will examine some guidelines for performing an impactful situation analysis, as well as the use of situation analysis in one growing destination, Tunisia. 

Situation Analysis, as Explained by the World Bank

Analyzing data for situation analysis
Data analysis is a crucial aspect of conducting a situation analysis.

How do tourism practitioners go about conducting a situation analysis of a destination? Solimar International, for example, follows the strategy guidelines outlined by the World Bank, a global partnership dedicated to using sustainable solutions to combat poverty. Per the World Bank’s method, there are four essential steps to conducting a successful situation analysis.

  1. Project planning
  2. Desk-based  research 
  3. An in-country evaluation
  4. An analysis of their data to compile a report detailing both their research and conclusions

Each step requires complex research, discussion, and analysis. Within these guidelines, the World Bank also offers detailed suggestions on how to complete each step:  A situation analysis team must interview a range of stakeholders within a country’s tourism industry, everyone from artisans selling goods to travel booking agents. Desk research entails compiling and studying all documents relevant to the destination’s tourism, and the statistical analysis of comparing the performance of the country to similar countries.  This data must then be analyzed to identify the opportunities, challenges, and solutions surrounding the destination. Finally, the World Bank advises the team to use all their data, research, and analysis to create the final tourism strategy document. 

What Should be Included in the Final Report?

Because the main objective of a situation analysis is to identify both the biggest opportunities and constraints associated with a given destination, the report therefore must outline the destination’s offerings. These can include anything from thriving wineries to well-preserved cultural sites. However, the report must also acknowledge the challenges that were pinpointed by the analysis. Issues such as poor infrastructure or lack of safety can be major hindrances to tourism. In addition, a proper analysis should identify potential solutions to the constraints, and these should be included in the report as well. It is also crucial for the report to list key stakeholders in the local tourism industry, in addition to potential partners that may help to implement the plan. This detail ensures that the plan includes everyone who has a vested interest in helping the strategy succeed. 

Practical Application: How A Situation Analysis was Used in Creating Tunisia’s Tourism Strategy

View of Tunisia, destination using situation analysis
Tunisia is a beautiful destination for tourists to enjoy

Tunisia is a wonderful destination, with numerous activities for tourists to enjoy. It is rife with opportunities for successful tourism, from a Mediterranean coastline to historical sites. However, the destination is not yet on par with nearby destinations such as Morocco and Egypt. Tunisia receives approximately a million tourists per year, and the country hopes to grow its tourism sector. To achieve this, Solimar is currently working on the USAID Visit Tunisia program Tunisia’s tourism visibility. One of the program’s initial goals was to develop a national tourism strategy, which included a comprehensive situation analysis. 

To complete the analysis, Solimar interviewed major stakeholders in Tunisia, including those in the public and private sectors. It is critical to converse with stakeholders in order to understand the expectations for the plan’s results and to provide further insight into the destination’s current tourism situation. Extensive desk research was conducted this included comparing Tunisia’s data to that of competing countries, and reading previous strategies and relevant documents for Tunisia. Solimar also reviewed all available tourism sector data from Tunisia. Through this data, Solimar was able to better understand both the problems and advantage tourism faced in Tunisia. Finally, Solimar analyzed the statistics from Tunisia’s tourism sector. Using this data and analysis, Solimar was able to form a solid foundation of the country’s current tourism industry to inform the development of recommendations for the National Tourism Strategy. 

Interested in learning more about strategic planning for tourism? Be sure to like Solimar on Facebook to stay updated on our latest projects! 

 

Solimar International is pleased to announce our Fall 2022 Travel Writing and Tourism Development Internship Cohort! This semester’s cohort is comprised of 14 inspired individuals with a common interest in sustainable development and tourism. As you will see, each intern has a unique background and experiences that will be highly beneficial to our work. We hope to equip these interns with the knowledge and skills they need to become industry leaders by providing them with hands-on experience in several of our current projects and actively participating in the vision and mission of Solimar International. Without further ado, this fall’s outstanding class of our tourism development internship!

Meet the Current Tourism Development Internship Cohort:

headshot of Ellison Fellers, Solimar international tourism development internship

Ellison Fellers

Ellison holds a BS in Sustainability in Business from Ohio State University and is currently enrolled at the University of Copenhagen, obtaining her MSc in Global Development. Ellison comes with experience working for a US-based NGO within the field of public health, leading volunteer trips to Argentina, Tanzania, Indonesia, India, and Kenya. Ellison currently works within the tourism sector on a development and innovation team striving to promote more sustainable and inclusive tourism experiences. As an avid traveler, her thirst for exploring every pocket of the planet continues to fuel her adventures abroad. She’s hoping to continue to combine her passions by exploring the intersection of tourism and development through regenerative and community-based applications. 

 

 

 

Lalith Chowdary Kankanala

I am a master’s student in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India. I am currently enrolled at Sustainability Management School in Switzerland, pursuing a Dual CAS in Sustainable Hospitality and Tourism Management. I have experience organizing trips, particularly in the sustainable tourism sector, where I emphasize the importance of sustainability and help people understand why it is so important. I hope to gain more experience in gastronomy tourism and project management through this internship at Solimar International. 

 

Lassana Ndiaye

Lassana Ndiaye is a senior at the African Leadership University in Kigali, where she studies Global Challenges Studies with a focus on Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Related Studies. His passion for environmental and wildlife conservation began during the fall semester of 2019 when he had the opportunity to study abroad in Rwanda. During his internship with Maliasili, he learned how wildlife management affects indigenous communities. He worked as an intern in Climate resilience and Anticipatory Action Early Warming (AA) with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO). Lassana is fluent in English and French. Lassana hopes to pursue a career in climate resilience and write a policy for a government agency due to her international experience. When he is not reading about current events around the world related to disasters caused by global warming, he enjoys basketball, football, and morning running.

Grace Jaworski

Grace is a third-year student at The Ohio State University working towards her bachelor’s in Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability, specializing in Business and Sustainability and a minor in photography. After spending the spring collaborating with university leaders on projects focused on energy consumption, Grace decided to shift gears and pursue her passions for photography and sustainable travel more directly. This internship at Solimar International has already shown her how a love for photography can be connected with marketing sustainable travel, and Grace is excited to connect with others who have similar passions!

headshot of Eileen Dinn, Solimar international tourism development internship

Eileen Dinn

Eileen Dinn is currently a senior at the College of William & Mary in historic Williamsburg, VA where she studies Government and Integrative Conservation. She has a variety of work experience but, most notably, was recently co-leading the development of an administrative proposal regarding future strategic planning for James Monroe’s former property, Highland, located in Albemarle, VA. Through this project, Eileen could dive deeper into the concept of sustainable tourism and incorporate those principles into the proposal. She is enthusiastic about traveling and learning more about the world around her and always strives to find solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.  

 

 

headshot of Tom Hinkel, Solimar international tourism development internship

Tom Hinkel

Tom Hinkel holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and is currently a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service. He has professional experience in both sustainable development and conservation as well as in the government SaaS industry. His undergraduate professional experience gave him knowledge of various conservation efforts, such as protecting the Okavango Delta in Namibia. He is also an avid researcher with academic interests in Europe, Eurasia, and sub-Saharan Africa. With these interests, he has beneficial knowledge of the political context of numerous regions.

Tom studied abroad in Berlin and utilized this opportunity to travel throughout Europe. He was fascinated by the local Catalonian government’s actions toward establishing sustainable tourism practices in Park Güell. During his internship, Tom is excited at the opportunity to further his understanding of sustainable tourism development and how the sector interacts with national governments. 

headshot of Noelle Faiza, Solimar international tourism development internship

Noelle Faiza

As a child, Noelle’s annual trips to visit her family in Tunisia during US school breaks planted a seed that evolved into a passion for travel. Her dual nationality made her curious about the world’s diverse cultures and political systems. At 16, she moved to the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she lived for two years as a United World College (UWC) Davis Scholar. The UWC mission of making education a force to build bridges has become a lifelong philosophy for Noelle, which she applies to many areas of her life. In line with this ethos, she believes travel is one of the most engaging forms of education possible. This past summer, she was awarded the National Security Language Institute for Youth Scholarship to study Arabic in Amman, Jordan, for six weeks. Aside from academic travel experiences, Noelle has backpacked through Montenegro and Croatia, biked 250 kilometers through Bosnia and Herzegovina, and explored the Côte d’Azur via public transportation. Through every experience, she seeks to learn from the people who live in the places she visits to understand the location in a multi-faceted way.

 

 

Madison Tomaso

Madison Tomaso is currently taking a gap year and plans to study Political Science. She is from Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina. She is passionate about preserving cultural heritage, traveling, and studying foreign languages. As an experienced traveler, she is interested in learning about sustainable tourism. Madison is thrilled to have the opportunity to intern with Solimar International to expand her knowledge. She is excited to bring her skills to Solimar to help benefit the communities along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Mavi Wilches

From an early age, Mavi was able to adapt to a nomadic lifestyle from the moment she left Colombia, where she was born, and as she moved from the United States to Brazil, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. She recalls this lifestyle was a life-changing experience, without a doubt, but it was only years later that she truly realized its long-lasting impact. The academic and personal experiences she has gained by transiting through these cultures has allowed her to develop soft skills based on empathy, respect, and appreciation for diversity. As a result, these lessons on multiculturalism, cross-cultural skills, and multilingualism have awakened in her interest in combining development goals with the sustainable tourism paradigm in an attempt to advance social inclusion, community empowerment, and gender equality. She believes this is precisely where Solimar’s Fall Virtual Internship Program fits in!

Mavi looks forward to learning from destination management planning as she assists in simultaneous projects taking place in Tunisia, the Congo, and Timor-Leste, among others. Her goal is to use this experience to decide the next steps, as she just graduated from Fundação Getulio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil, and now holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.

Kat Orellana

Kat holds a BS in Biology and Environmental Science from Duke University and is pursuing a Master’s of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) at the University of California Santa Barbara’s Bren School of the Environment. Kat has worked on conservation initiatives through National Geographic’s Big Cats Week and Saving Nature’s Corridor Reforestation Projects. Through her time spent living, working, and backpacking abroad, she witnessed the impacts travel can have on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, as well as its effects on the surrounding communities. Her experiences have instilled a love of travel and an urgency to protect our world’s wild places. Kat is motivated to increase benefits for both biodiversity and local communities through tourism and is excited to join Solimar International’s tourism development internship cohort to create a larger space for sustainability and responsible tourism within the travel industry.

headshot of Marissa Volkman, Solimar international tourism development internship

Marissa Volkman

Marissa’s interest in global affairs began in high school when she had the chance to meet with representatives of the United Nations to discuss unemployment in the European Union. She went on to study at Colgate University in order to take advantage of the school’s ample study-abroad opportunities. As an undergraduate, she majored in English and double minored in philosophy and writing/rhetoric, choosing courses highlighting international perspectives. Outside of the classroom, she edited her school newspaper and pursued extra-curricular opportunities in linguistics to fulfill her ardor for cultural exploration. After completing her B.A. in May 2021, Marissa earned a TEFL certification and began teaching English online. In February 2022, she traveled to Germany to intern at a non-profit, where she worked to highlight locals’ cross-national social histories while fostering community engagement. Her internship demonstrated how tourism could be used to reinvigorate a small town and shifted Marissa’s career goals back towards her passion for international affairs, now focusing on the tourism sector. As an avid backpacker whose zeal for preserving linguistic and cultural diversity directs her travels, Marissa is thrilled to be breaking into the sustainable tourism industry by joining Solimar’s tourism development internship. She is dedicated to using her time here to ensure tourism enriches both travelers and developing touristic communities around the world.

headshot of Cat Padgett, Solimar international tourism development internship

Catherine Padgett

Cat has just completed her master’s degree in Food Security from the University of Edinburgh. As part of this master’s, she completed a dissertation on the intersections of food security and mangrove conservation efforts in Bangladesh’s Sundarban Delta. Solimar was a project partner in this research, providing local connections and project supervision. Through this research opportunity, Cat could travel to Dacope, a sub-district of Bangladesh’s Khulna district, to conduct in-person fieldwork. Here, she worked with one of Solimar’s Bangladesh project partners: Bangladesh Environment and Development Society, a local NGO. This opportunity cemented her drive to pursue research as a career path, supporting projects that center on smallholder livelihood development, local perspectives, and community-based initiatives for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

headshot of Megan O'Beirne, Solimar international tourism development internship

Megan O’Beirne

Megan is passionate about sustainable development, regenerative travel, and environmental education. For the past five years, she has worked as a sustainability professional in the luxury hospitality industry, first in Laamu Atoll, Maldives, and then in Cartagena, Colombia. She has bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Global Studies from the University of California Santa Barbara. She is currently working on a dual master’s degree in International Affairs, Natural Resources, and Sustainable Development from American University in Washington, DC, and the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. She will be working on Solimar’s Climate Adaptation Project in the Maldives, which aims to incentivize the private sector to invest in nature-based solutions. Megan is an avid bike commuter, scuba diver, nature photographer, and international cook/eater.

 

 

Anaïs Prado Cornaro

Anaïs grew up in Switzerland but coming from a multicultural background, as her parents had both grown up in various countries, she has a passion and curiosity to explore and get to know new cultures and ways of life. From a young age, she has been drawn to nature and its preservation. Hence she plans to study Environmental Engineering at ETH Zurich. While traveling, she has seen many of the wrong sides of tourism and is immensely interested in Solimar’s work incorporating the local communities. Grateful for being a part of the Tunisia project, she hopes to gain clarity on some of the central issues and how Solimar solves them.

 

Want to learn more about Solimar International’s tourism development internship? Read more and apply for our Spring 2023 internship program here.

Blog by: Lassana Ndiaye

Regenerative travel allows you to ethically view some of these stunning sites

Why Regenerative Tourism is the Industry’s Future

When not managed or appropriately planned, tourism can be a very extractive process that comes at the expense of local people and their homes. Often, multinational tourism companies capitalize on popular destinations to the detriment of residents. These destinations are “mined” for labor, culture, land use, and natural features. Extractive tourism, a term coined by academic Vijay Kolinjivadi, contributes to climate change and environmental degradation and commodifies indigenous traditions. Local residents are often priced out of their homes due to the gentrification caused by tourist demand to be catered to.

Sustainable tourism is the first step toward counterbalancing the destruction caused by traditional tourism. The goal here is to make tourism a neutral force in destinations, causing no net harm–but also no net benefit. Regenerative tourism takes a step beyond sustainability; it encompasses the notion that tourism should leave a place better than before, taking a holistic approach to improving the well-being of destinations. Often, regenerative tourism operations offer visitors concrete ways of participating in conservation activities to increase their appreciation of the destination.

What Does Regenerative Tourism Do for the Planet?

Regenerative tourism operations require tourism professionals to brainstorm creative ways to minimize environmental impacts. Nature-based solutions integrate natural processes into the built environment to increase resilience, and are great methods for creating a regenerative tourism framework. These solutions can be big or small, ranging from building submerged structures for coastal wave-breaking and substrate for coral colonization to making plates out of locally-grown bamboo instead of plastic or paper. Nature-based solutions, implemented within a regenerative tourism plan, can help make tourism a force for good in the world. If every tour in a destination contributed to restoring the landscape, the positive change tourists could bring would be enormous!

Regenerative tourism does not only apply to previously damaged ecosystems, however. When starting a new tourism operation, it is essential to consider its possible effects on the environment. Implementing a regenerative plan before damage can even begin helps to ensure that tourism professionals do not create future problems for themselves. Keeping rivers clear, forests green, and beaches clean guarantees that tourists can continue to enjoy a destination for years to come. An unhealthy ecosystem can cause severe damage to a tourism operation’s bottom line; healing the environment as the market grows ensures business can stay booming. After all, you can’t offer snorkel tours if there are no fish to see. Regenerative tourism provides the promise of stability in both the natural and business worlds.

Sundarbans Forest in Bangladesh
Preserving natural beauty, like in the Sundarbans Forest of India and Bangladesh, is a significant part of any regenerative vacation

What Does Regenerative Tourism Do for People?

Regenerative tourism is not only focused on the restoration of the natural environment. On the contrary, it is deeply concerned with the experiences of people. First and foremost are the residents of a travel destination. Regenerative operations are either run by or look to partner with local communities. This ensures that tourism dollars flow into the destination, not the pocketbooks of outside investors.

Close relationships with local and indigenous peoples also allow for the concrete preservation of cultural heritage. Native residents can choose how to present their traditions to visitors rather than having foreign companies commodify their way of life. It can even increase local support for tourism!

Many popular destinations have become the victims of “overtourism,” or the congestion of a location by tourists, which locals perceive to have a detrimental effect on their own quality of life. The indigenous of Hawai’i, in particular, have been righteously hostile to tourists for several years, with some factions pushing for a complete halt of visitor traffic. However, a recent study in the Journal of Travel Research suggests that regenerative tourism models make tourism much more palatable for Hawai’i residents, with 96.3% of 463 respondents looking favorably to tourists who would participate in conservation activities.

regenerative tourism helps with impacts of crowds
Crowds of irresponsible tourists can reduce local support for tourism

Why Should Travelers Look for These Tourism Opportunities Moving Forward?

Booking a trip from an organization that uses regenerative tourism strategies can contribute to peace of mind, as visitors know that they aren’t promoting the destruction of the ecosystems they want to experience. These tours may not be the most well-known, but that doesn’t mean they offer a lower-quality experience. Many of them are hidden gems that give travelers unique opportunities for interaction that other tours could never provide, with smaller group sizes making for a more personalized adventure.

Local guides are a great way to support a local economy
Utilizing local guides makes for a smaller and more tailored experience for tourists.

Experiential tourism is the name of the game these days, with travelers wanting to pursue immersion over superficial encounters. Regenerative tourism operations allow visitors to get their hands dirty with activities such as planting native trees, clearing invasive plant species, and removing fishing gear and other plastics from water bodies. Local guides offer in-depth glimpses of the reality of life in these locations. These enterprises seek to create a culture of reciprocity with residents, allowing both sides of the tourism equation to learn from each other. Tourists who participate in these kinds of regenerative pursuits have reported feelings of deep satisfaction and connection with nature and are likely to continue these behaviors upon returning to their homes.

picking up trash is a meaningful way to contribute to a place
Participating in conservation activities, like beach clean-ups, makes visitors feel more connected to a destination.

On a more practical note, a 2021 study by Booking.com found that 68% of tourists want to ensure that their money goes to an operation that supports local people and is distributed equitably. On a regenerative trip, visitors can be sure that their money supports the people who live and work at these destinations. Residents are the people who have the power to keep the world’s favorite travel destinations clean, biodiverse, and economically stable while offering an honest look into their cultures.  Recreational travel through regenerative tourism helps to support a bright future for the tourism industry on all sides.

To learn more about regenerative tourism and why it is the future of our industry, check out our Director of Conservation & Community Development Chloe King’s white paper about regenerative tourism here. You can also see Solimar’s regenerative tourism projects on our website.

Blog by Annie Combs and Deanna Elliott

polar ice caps climate change

In part one of this series, we discussed how tourism and climate change are inextricably linked. Nature-based tourism is becoming increasingly vulnerable to changing weather patterns, while the nature of tourism itself contributes 8% of global emissions. The landmark Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism – launched at COP26 – urged destinations and the tourism industry to reduce carbon emissions by 50% before 2030, and reach Net Zero as soon as possible by 2050. Solimar Internationa’s recent white paper publication echoed this commitment, designing Five Principles for tourism businesses to invest in Nature-based Solutions to respond to the causes and consequences of climate change (see photo). In addition to a mitigation pathway of measuring and reducing emissions, it is imperative for governments and businesses to simultaneously invest in climate change adaptation – using tourism as a means to build, finance and sustain climate resilient destinations.

Five Principles for Effective Nature-based Solutions in Tourism from Solimar International’s report

Five Principles for Effective Nature-based Solutions in Tourism from Solimar International’s report Climate Action through Regeneration: Unlocking the Power of Communities and Nature through Tourism

The World Economic Forum (2020) estimated that over half of global GDP, US $44 trillion, is potentially threatened by loss of nature and biodiversity, while the transition to a nature-positive economy could create 395 million jobs by 2030, or around one fifth of the total projected increase in global labor force (World Economic Forum, 2020). Global investments in NbS already surpassed US $133 billion in 2020—only 14% of which came from private finance (UNEP, 2021a; UNEP and IUCN, 2021). The UN State of Finance for Nature report 2021 argues this investment must triple by 2030 if we are to meet global climate and biodiversity goals.

The second in this article series showcases how we can increase investment in nature in destinations around the world–including those that we support through our international development projects–to respond to the consequences of climate change by investing in actions that will protect and restore nature and communities.

The Sundarbans Reserve Forest – Bangladesh 

The Sundarbans Reserved Forest in Bangladesh is the largest mangrove forest on Earth, home to the Bengali tiger and hundreds of bird, fish, mammal, and reptile species. Spanning three wildlife sanctuaries across 317,950 hectares, including Ramsar and World Heritage Sites, the Sundarbans provides sustainable livelihoods for millions of people and act as a shelter belt to protect communities from storms, cyclones, tidal surges, and seawater intrusion.

Sunderbands reserve forest in Bangladesh

The Sundarbans Reserve Forest in Bangladesh. Photo by Chloe King

A total of 7.79 million people live in the Sundarbans Impact Zone, with about 28 percent of people from this zone directly dependent on the Sundarbans for their livelihoods, including as woodcutters, fishermen, and gatherers of honey, leaves, and grass. However, according to a recent study, Bangladesh lost 73 percent of mangrove forest cover since the 1960s, with only 11 percent of the country remaining forested (Bangladesh Forest Inventory). Nearly 2.5 million people depend upon the SRF for their livelihoods (Gopal and Chauhan, 2018), and the mangrove forest naturally shields millions from increasingly erratic weather events, such as Cyclone Amphan that hit the coast in 2020, the most powerful to strike Bangladesh in 20 years (AlJazeera, 2020). Unsustainable development, such as the Ramsar Coal Fired Power Plant, under construction only 4km away from the buffer zone of the SRF may provide jobs, but ultimately risk undermining the natural climate protection the SRF offers (Chowdhury, 2017). 

USAID/Bangladesh, in partnership with the Bangladesh Ecotourism and Conservation Alliance (BECA) implemented by Solimar International and the Government of Bangladesh, is currently focusing on interventions in and this iconic tourism destination and arguably most important protected area. By ensuring that tourism develops sustainably and is better distributed to local communities, this project hopes to reduce pressure on natural resource extraction, while also deterring environmentally destructive industries from developing around the periphery of the reserve. The communities living around the periphery of the last great mangrove forest cannot afford to lose the living lungs of the Earth. Without nature and wildlife, humanity can neither address the climate crisis as a whole, nor save those who are most vulnerable to its consequences. 

map of the sundarbands reserve forest

Climate Change Adaptation in the Maldives and Sri Lanka

Climate risks in the Maldives and Sri Lanka are growing in frequency and intensity. Sea level rise, coastal storm surges, and flooding pose a significant threat to the Maldives, where more than 80% of the land area is less than one meter above sea level. Flooding and drought in Sri Lanka are among many of the consequences of climate change that negatively impact the most important elements of Sri Lanka’s economy. For these reasons, both countries have policy frameworks in place that identify climate change risks and prioritize adaptation strategies.

The USAID Climate Adaptation Project (CAP) is a five-year project in the Maldives and Sri Lanka where its purpose is to enhance the adaptive capacities of the public and private sectors and local communities to respond to the impact of climate change. The first year of the activity (2022) is focused on the Maldives, and Solimar International is leading the private sector engagement for the project. CAP will help identify and scale up solutions to climate-related challenges, strengthen governance to address climate-related risks, and improve access to high-quality information for decision-making to reduce vulnerability to climate change. Solimar will support this work by identifying innovative solutions to adaptively manage climate-related risk through market-driven private sector and community engagement.

Tourism operators in the Maldives have the unique ability to take advantage of increased interest in and funding for Nature-based Solutions for climate mitigation, while simultaneously utilizing these same solutions to respond to societal challenges and help their respective destinations adapt to the realities of climate change. Tourism can play an important role in helping communities adapt to this new reality and build resilience to future risks. For example, many of the resorts and tourism businesses in the Maldives are already investing in coral reef restoration through organizations such as Reefscapers. However, interviews with businesses revealed that this restoration work is not being done in a consistent or effective manner, with lack of national policy guidelines for tourism operators.

coral reefs threatened by climate change

Coral reef ecosystems in the Maldives are threatened by climate change and coastal tourism development. A more sustainable industry can help to mitigate both of these threats. Photo by Chloe King

An example of nature based solutions include mangrove tourism projects. On the Maldives’ Huvadhoo Atoll, mangroves were covered with sand to reduce mosquito populations; however, flooding also increased as a result. Local communities pushed for restoration and the construction of eco-huts which linked tourism and mangrove restoration. Solimar is exploring opportunities for destination management at other mangrove sites in the Maldives, linking mangrove ecotourism to support conservation. These models of nature based solutions can be further explored to link tourism and climate change adaptation.

Another opportunity for tourism to be involved in climate adaptation includes creating structures that protect and nourish sand and shorelines in ways that are nature-based and nature-positive. For example, living sea walls can be created as a blend of hard engineering seawall solutions that foster growth in coral and other marine life. This could offer an opportunity to resorts in the Maldives that are looking to invest in sea walls to create more environmentally-friendly and adaptive solutions.

Are you a tourism business or destination with innovative ideas for climate adaptation? Are you financing nature restoration or protection in new or exciting ways? Take our survey here for a chance to be a featured business in an upcoming white paper publication: https://tinyurl.com/enterprise-nbs-survey

By Shivya Nath, Alexandria Kleinschmidt, Annie Combs, and Chloe King

tourism for conservation

Can Tourism Support Conservation?

A question we always get in our line of work is can tourism really support conservation efforts? Yes, conservation and tourism are interconnected in many ways! Tourism involves visiting places of interest, and conservation involves protecting places of interest. Tourists can combine the two by visiting and supporting areas that actively practice conservation. In some cases, a tourist can actually decide where they would like to visit based on conservation efforts in the area. The increasing popularity of visiting destinations with that in mind is seen with more people visiting national parks in the US or the Galapagos Islands.

Types of conservation to support through tourism

  1. Wildlife conservation

This most popular type of conservation is normally based around a specific animal or animals. Tourists chose destinations for wildlife conservation to see or interact with their favorite animals.

Destinations to best participation in wildlife conservation tourism include La Jolla, California to see the sea lions or whale watching in Hawaii. Participating in activities that involve learning about wildlife or seeing wildlife supports organizations working to help protect the wildlife. The more popular wildlife tourism is, the more support different organizations get from the public, and in turn, they are better able to protect wildlife.

Sea lions on the beach at La Jolla Cove in Southern California, with sea lions playing in the surf. Tourism helps support the conservation of this colony of sea lions.
Sea Lions in La Jolla Cove, California

2. Cultural Conservation

Cultural conservation is crucial when working in destinations. It is important that tourism does not erode the traditions and customs of a place. Cultural conservation can include shopping at local markets to support communities. UNESCO’s heritage sites are locations that hold cultural and historical significance to a region or area. These locations are great examples of where tourism and cultural conservation come together. 

3. Environmental Conservation

The third type of conservation is environmental conservation, where the efforts go beyond a single animal and focus on an environment. The national parks are a great example of how tourists can visit an area that specifically uses their profits to protect and conserve the land and create a unique opportunity where tourists can experience the environment first hand in different ways, such as camping.

How does tourism support conservation?

Tourism is important for conservation for multiple reasons. One reason is because it can financially support conservation efforts. Tourists can eat locally to support a community, or they can choose to participate in a tour where a portion of the cost goes directly to conservation efforts. Most conservation efforts actively teach people the importance of protecting different environments and inspire them to care about the new places they have seen. You’re more likely to want to save the turtles if you’ve actually seen them! 

Financial support is very important when considering conservation efforts, but knowledge and the spread of knowledge is just as important. Tourism provides the opportunity for travelers to learn more about both wildlife and the environment they are visiting, but it also gives them the opportunity to relay what they learned to friends, family, blogs or other social media. 

What is a real life example of tourists supporting wildlife conservation?

One great example of tourism supporting wildlife conservation is Camp Jabulani in South Africa. This is a luxury safari camp that provides a 5-star safari experience with game drives, spas, and hot air balloon rides, but they are also famous for their elephant preservation efforts. When tourists visit this camp, they are directly supporting the conservation of the elephants on the camp’s reserve and any future wildlife rehabilitation and habitat restoration efforts the camp carries out.

Camp Jabulani has rescued orphaned or displaced elephants and has introduced them into the herd that is living on the camp’s reserve. The camp cares for the elephants and has created a sanctuary where the elephants live freely with the help of the camp staff. Tourists are able to visit the camp and learn about the importance of elephants in an ecosystem, the efforts to create a wild experience for the elephants, and the rehabilitation care given to the rescued elephants. This is a great example of how tourism supports conservation, because without tourists, this camp would not be able to care for these elephants that don’t have a chance of survival in the wild. 

An elephant with its trunk in the air during the elephant experience at Camp Jabulani in South Africa. This experience contributes to the conservation of African wildlife.
An Elephant at Camp Jabulani

How can I, as a tourist, help support conservation?

There are many different ways a tourist can purposefully support conservation efforts during their trip. A great way is to do research before your trip to see if there are any related projects currently being managed by the hotel or location you are staying at. Some hotels offer tours that teach tourists about the surrounding environment, and in turn, profits from the tour go to conservation efforts.

Another easy way a tourist can support conservation is by respecting outdoor areas. This includes picking up trash after a beach trip, staying on a path during a forest walk, and not feeding or touching the nearby wildlife. These efforts help keep the environment healthy and prosperous.

It’s also important to research before you buy. Make sure the hotel, tour, or restaurant that claims to be conserving isn’t actually exploiting. Look for companies or organizations who focus on education and don’t allow the tourists to disrespect their surroundings. This means the organizations don’t disrupt the natural life cycle by feeding animals, waking up animals, picking flowers, and more. This is exploitation of the natural environment and can be very harmful. EcoClub has an extensive list that provides great examples of tours with a positive impact. 

An elephant at Camp Jabulani being led back to their sleeping area at sunset. There is a lake in front of the elephant with the elephant's reflection on the water and a sunset behind it. The program at Camp Jabulani helps conserve these animals and their habitat.
An Elephant Wanders at Sunset Near Camp Jabulani

Where should I visit next to support conservation efforts?

Finding your next destination to support conservation can be overwhelming. Our website lists many projects we’ve undertaken in incredible destinations around the world. You can read more about the work Solimar has done with the Choco community in Colombia, the efforts to conserve Bengal tiger habitats in the Sundarban region, and many others! Read more here about why Southern Tanzania is a great destination whose wildlife depends on tourists like you. The locals and safari camp sites here (along with many other places in southern and Eastern Africa) focus on anti-poaching and conservation efforts.

about 100 penguins at Boulder Beach in South Africa. This area is know for its array of wildlife, making conservation extremely important here.
Penguins at Boulder Beach, South Africa

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

“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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