Tag: #solimarinternational

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.

Photo courtesy of Zane Hartog, a peace corps armenia volunteer. Hiking in Lori Marz, Armenia

Tourism Unique Center. really cool TUC campsite in the mountains showing the vast potential that Armenia's sustainable tourism industry has
Photo courtesy of Tourism Unique Center. TUC campsite.

As most expert travelers know, it is difficult to find an immersive, cultural experience in regions away from large population centers. In the Lori region of Northern Armenia, the NGO Center has created the Tourism Unique Center, known as TUC (ՏՈւԿ), which allows tourists to learn and play while benefiting the local village community in Dsegh through economic development and poverty alleviation. TUC capitalizes on local knowledge, cultural sites, and a breathtaking environment to provide their guests with a travel story that will last a lifetime. It is one of the best examples of the country’s community-based tourism, showing that Armenia’s sustainable tourism potential is endless.

The Lori region of Armenia lies directly between the Armenian capital of Yerevan and Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. Envoy Hostels, who operate locations in both cities, claim 70% of travelers visit both countries during their trip to this area of the world. In creating TUC, the NGO Center took note of their prime location and unique resources when envisioning a space to give foreigners an enchanting, hands-on travel experience. Learn more about why Armenia’s tourism industry.

Why visit Armenia?

Mount Ararat from the top of Cascade - an excellent opportunity to grow Armenia's sustainable tourism
Photo courtesy of Johnathan Stefanick. Mount Ararat from the top of Cascade.

In 2018, The Economist named Armenia its “Country of the Year.” The same year, the late Anthony Bourdain did an episode of Parts Unknown featuring Armenia as a burgeoning destination with a distinctive culture, mouthwatering cuisine, and riveting history. In a single day, a traveler can visit the first Christian church in the world, ride the longest ropeway in the world, and drink wine from a region whose production stretches back nearly 6000 years. This is all in addition to incredible views of Mount Ararat, where Noah’s Ark came to rest, Lake Sevan, one of the largest freshwater alpine lakes in Eurasia, and Yerevan, a bustling capital offering extraordinary impressions around every corner. With all these incredible offerings, it is easy to understand why Armenian tourism is rapidly attracting international tourists.

Tourism Unique Center

TUC was an idea born out of the NGO Center, a prominent conglomeration of civil society outlets located across Armenia. The goal was to increase exposure to the region, while ensuring that local communities benefited from their own knowledge and land. TUC started small and slowly grew its exposure within the country until year three, when the all-inclusive campsite was able to host over 1000 visitors from all over the world in just a single summer.

Community Involvement in Armenian Sustainable Tourism

TUC is located in the village of Dsegh, which is also the birthplace of Armenia’s national poet Hovhannes Tumanyan. The community has historically rallied around the sense of pride this brings, and TUC provides the opportunity to reach a larger and more international base. All of TUC’s operations are run by locals who provide upkeep, excursions, and masterclasses on Armenian cultural practices. The community is involved in decision making as TUC continues to flourish in the tourism sector.

TUC has created the infrastructure necessary to host domestic groups seeking to reconnect with traditional rural Armenian life. Corporate retreats and school field trips use the space and resources to come together. Weddings and festivals are often hosted by the organization as well. TUC, while aiming to promote identity and tourism, has created a bastion of community development that serves to benefit all stakeholders.

Photo courtesy of Tourism Unique Center (TUC). View of Dsegh from above, an amazing landscape filled with amazing potential for tourism development in Armenia
Photo courtesy of Tourism Unique Center (TUC). View of Dsegh from above.

TUC’s Travel and Tourism Experiences

TUC offers guests a plethora of experiential opportunities to participate in during their stay. Local experts serve as the guides or organizers for these outings and can range from cheese-making to hiking. Festivals are numerous in summertime to commemorate certain harvest cycles or to just have a great time. Other adventures guests can participate in are:

  • Gastro-masterclasses in local cuisine. The most popular are the world renown cheesemaking, lavash baking, and khorovats (Armenian barbeque)
  • Armenian games
  • Rafting and fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • Hiking to historical sites nearby
  • Traditional dance (Kochari) lessons
  • And festivals!
Photo courtesy of Tourism Unique Center (TUC). Cheesemaking process preserving local culture - Armenia's regenerative tourism
Photo courtesy of Tourism Unique Center (TUC). Cheesemaking process.

Armenia Sustainable Tourism Destinations Nearby

TUC can also be used as a jumping off point to explore other destinations nearby. Dsegh is located at the top of the Debet Canyon, a massive cavern that stretches for miles and is tucked between the rolling Caucus foothills. Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are just a quick drive or hike away. The Mikoyan Museum, which honors brothers Anastas and Artyom Mikoyan who invented the Soviet MiG fighter jets used in World War II, is also a must visit, as it boasts one of the only full size planes still constructed today!

Just a short walk from TUC is the Children of Armenia Fund’s (COAF) Smart Center. I describe it as a spaceship in the middle of a village. This educational space serves people of all ages in the surrounding communities by offering programming on everything from guitar classes to computer coding. The COAF Smart Center is an inspiring feat of community investment and offers regularly scheduled tours to learn more about their work.

Photo courtesy of Aram Atyan.  COAF Smart Center in rural Armenia as a visitor center for visitors to Northern Armenia
Photo courtesy of Aram Atyan.  COAF Smart Center.

Spitak is a small township located in the Lori region and was the epicenter of the 1988 earthquake that devastated northern Armenia. Many lives were lost and changed forever by the event. The response to this catastrophe was historical, as then former U.S. President George H.W. Bush sent his son Jeb to assist in the effort. This was also the first time the Soviet Union accepted western aid, as it dealt with the crisis and its aftermath. Many memorials can be seen throughout the town, and some of the devastation remains until this day (an opportunity for sustainable development).

Vanadzor is Armenia’s third largest city and lies approximately 30 minutes away. Formerly known as Kirovakan, this city features incredible Soviet architecture and a massive decorated main square. Vanadzor is known as the hub of Armenia’s rock and roll culture. Bands like Lav Eli, Rozen Tal, and Clocker were all formed here. Even Serj Tankian, the lead singer of System of a Down, has familial ties to Vanadzor.

See you in Dsegh!

TUC is an excellent example of destination management and effective strategic planning. The stakeholders identified the site’s unique characteristics and have capitalized on them in a tourism strategy benefiting all involved. The next time you find yourself in Northern Armenia, take the chance to check it out. The number of visitors leaving with unbeatable new memories is growing – don’t miss out.

To learn more about Solimar International’s projects in Armenia or our resources on destination management, please visit solimarinternational.com.

Photo courtesy of Zane Hartog, a peace corps armenia volunteer. Hiking in Lori Marz, Armenia
Photo courtesy of Zane Hartog. Hiking in Lori Marz, Armenia
A beautiful sunset in Wakatobi, Indonesia

Developing a tourism management plan is challenging for any destination management organization. Working for a destination management organization across multiple islands is even more! Since each island is different, each one is prioritizing different things. Between plastic trash pollution, climate change, access to clean water, and food security, there are many problems that are on the agenda to solve. Wakatobi, a group of four main islands in southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, face these complex issues in pursuit of sustainable tourism development.

Developing a Tourism Management Plan next to the beautiful ocean where diving is common on Sulawesi, Indonesia
Photo by Lelie Liana

Wakatobi is a rising tourism destination made up of four main islands in Southeast Indonesia. The name “Wakatobi” is derived from the first two letters of each island’s name. Wangi-wangi is the main administrative island and sets the policies for the other three islands; Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. A hidden gem of tourism, it is described as one of the 10 “new Balis” for tourism by many destination management companies. The beautiful white sand beaches, seemingly infinite availability of fresh seafood, and biodiversity give Wakatobi characteristics of a tropical island that is rare today, prime for sustainable development. It’s also commonly referred to as “The heart of the Coral Reef Triangle”, and you’ll soon understand why. After spending 18 months in this unforgettable travel destination, I understand why the name translates to “enjoying the sunset”.

A beautiful sunset in Wakatobi, Indonesia

By marveling at the beautiful pictures above, most wouldn’t have thought of the problems they may be facing, much less imagined an approach for tourism planning to deal with those complex issues. Here are the four main questions to consider and answer that can help you in your destination management development process:

  • What is Inter Island Development?
  • How can mission goals be identified?
  • How to pick a decision maker?
  • How can you promote sustainable development?

1.What is Inter Island Development, and how should you address it?

As with other destination development challenges in islands, Wakatobi also faces the inter-island development issue. This issue is caused by the diverse character of people on each island, creating the need for different approaches for each island’s development. People who live on the main island of Wangi-Wangi Island have a different language and lifestyle than people on every other island. The question becomes: how can a destination management organization address these diversities?

It is a dilemma – how can the quality of life of the native population be improved while acknowledging we may not all share the same vision due to the diversity of stakeholders.

While each island has its issues, there will always be one more prevalent than the others, and that should be focused on uniting each place under one organization. Even if everyone has a different language, character, or mission, focusing on this key point will bring everyone together.

To start, identify the most prevalent issues in the community. Take a look around you and determine if the community is living in wellness with regard to tourism management. Is the community involved in the tourism management industry? Are there many artisans from the local community? Try to talk with them and find out what issues they may face. This can be done by conducting key stakeholders mapping, and categorizing each issue under a key-stakeholder. Each issue should belong to the main category, and in-depth interviews can be conducted if needed.

a beautiful image of the sunset on Wakatobi, Indonesia a great tourism destination
Beautiful sunsets everyday in Wakatobi. Photo courtesy of Lelie Liana.

2.  How Can We Identify Destination Mission Goals?

Once you have finished mapping the key destination stakeholders and identified the main issues, it is easier to identify the incentives that could bring the stakeholders together. In Sustainable Tourism Development, we call these the destination mission goals. Once you can deliver the incentives to everyone, the challenge of finding a destination management leader begins. Yes, everyone now understands the key issue and what the incentives are once the issue is fixed, but who will decide now to take action? Everyone can’t be a decision-maker, so it’s important to pick one or a few to standardize the issue so everyone understands.

Your next job is to figure out who is the highest official position in that place that is capable of being a “decision-maker”. Deliver the incentives to this person, then let them work on their way to spread the incentives to the larger target in your destination.

Beautiful white sand beach with not many visitors around on Wakatobi, Indonesia
Photo Courtesy of Lelie Liana

3. How to Pick a Decision Maker in Destination Management?

Imagine yourself now with your friend in a jungle, where there is an immense lion that’s ready to attack you. You know you’re in a dangerous situation, and of course, you know that your friend has no idea how to save you. The issue here is that you don’t have time or resources to ask for help, but you know exactly what the condition is. “Who does what?”

This analogy relates to the topic of destination management, where the key stakeholders have already identified both the issue and the key actor as decision-makers. However, there is a missing part about how the plan will be made; the system. The system was created to ensure everything will be run officially, with certain tasks and roles. Those in the system need to understand their roles, so there will be no overlap with others.

Wakatobi, as previously explained, is made up of 4 islands with differences in their communities and culture. To ensure a solution for everyone in the islands, the Bupati (Regent) improved their ecosystem for sustainable tourism development by creating a Tourism Governance Forum. Under this forum, there was an Inter-Island Working Group that each island used to deliver their main tourism issue. This ecosystem worked because it was headed under by the Bupati and acknowledged by the Ministry of Tourism. Their centralization also included official assignments, roles, objectives, and programs.

fish market in Wakatobi, Indonesia. a big potential for tourism
by author Lelie Liana

4. How Can You Promote Sustainable Development Through Developing a Tourism Management Plan?

Sustainable Tourism Development should always be spearheaded by the destination when thinking of sustainability. Destination refers to the ecosystem, key stakeholders, issue, program, and goals of an area. When Wakatobi created Forum Tata Kelola Pariwisata, it created a system that worked for itself. Just because this form of Sustainable Tourism Development is working for inter-island communities doesn’t mean it works everywhere. If needed, destinations can adapt these 4 “How” questions from Wakatobi to fit their own needs.

Interested in developing a tourism management plan for your destination? Take one of our courses to learn more about DMO Development, and learn from other case studies how you can ensure sustainable development. Learn more from the tourism master plans we created in the Northern Great Plains, Republic of Georgia, the Cayman Islands.

Photo courtesy of Lelie Liana.

 

visit Souther Tanzania, Africa's best travel secrets Solimar International

Less than 1% of travelers to Tanzania venture to the country’s south… find out why skipping a visit to Southern Tanzania is a huge mistake

visit Souther Tanzania, Africa's best travel secrets Solimar International

Despite its bountiful national parks, game reserves, and beautiful beaches, few visit Soutthern Tanzania. It is the least traveled part of Tanzania, but has so many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. It is home to an astonishing range of wildlife, has incredible parks and offers stunning scenery. The southern part of Tanzania is on the Indian Ocean coastline, offering tourists relaxing beach destinations and an array of marine wildlife. Southern Tanzania is an unforgettable getaway for those who have an adventurous side and want to see a destination unlike no other. Here is a list of five reasons why Southern Tanzania is the best place to get off the beaten path:

1. Massive National Parks home to hundreds of animal species

A resting lion in Nyerere National Park, Southern Tanzania
A resting lion in Nyerere National Park, Southern Tanzania

 

Southern Tanzania is home to a diverse range of wildlife and parks, and is gaining a reputation as one of the best places to safari in Africa. Two of Southern Tanzania’s most popular parks are Nyerere National Park and Ruaha National Park. Nyerere National Park has the reputation as Africa’s best wildlife sanctuary, and is inhabited by over one million animals. Here you can find the world’s biggest elephant and wild dog populations, whilst enjoying views of the expansive scenery. Ruaha National Park is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in the country, holding a massive population of big game and birds. Here you can see the popular sand rivers providing water to the animals that inhabit the area. On safari you are sure to see gazelles taking a sip from the river, and who knows, maybe even four of the big five – African leopards, African lions, Cape buffalo, and African elephants. Both parks are off the beaten track destinations anyone should visit for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Lilac Breasted Roller, a beautiful bird that is a favorite among visitors to Southern Tanzania
Lilac Breasted Roller, a beautiful bird that is a favorite among visitors to Southern Tanzania

2. Pristine hidden beaches and marine life

Pristine beach and water of Mafia Island in Southern Tanzania
Pristine beach and water of Mafia Island. Photo courtesy of Travel Weekly

 

Southern Tanzania is home to many hidden beach getaways along the Indian Ocean coastline. The beaches are perfect for those looking for adventures off the beaten path, preferably in the water. Their astonishing coral reefs make scuba diving and snorkeling a favorite among those who love the ocean. One beautiful beach destination is Mafia Island, a must-see location just off the coast of Southern Tanzania. The island is the premier diving, snorkeling, and fishing destination in the country. The striking reefs that follow along the shore line are made up of 50 species of coral and are inhabited by over 400 species of fish, making for beautiful scenery and an array of colors while snorkeling and diving. The main wildlife attractions found on and around the island are the whale sharks and sea turtles. Mafia Island is also home to Tanzania’s first marine wildlife center. Another wondrous place to go diving is in Mikindani, close to the border with Mozambique.

Swimming with whale sharks Mafia Island, Southern Tanzania
Swimming with whale sharks Mafia Island

 

3. Southern Tanzania’s tourism is focused around sustainability

Photo courtesy of the World Bank Group. Showcases how management of sustainable techniques can get rivers flowing again in Southern Tanzania
Photo courtesy of the World Bank Group. Showcases how management of sustainable techniques preserve resources in Southern Tanzania

Photo courtesy of the World Bank Group. Showcases how management of sustainable techniques can get rivers flowing again. 

The African Wildlife Foundation is dedicated to implementing sustainable techniques in Tanzanian tourism, and has been implementing the Sustainability and Inclusion Strategy for Growth Corridors in Africa (SUSTAIN) since 2015. The program aims to promote agriculture that is better suited for the landscape, whilst preventing the overuse of Tanzania’s land and resources. As a destination that has rarely been touched by tourists, it is extremely important that the health and wellness of both the environment and local communities are thought of first. With a vast array of wildlife preserves, the implementation of sustainable techniques in Tanzania is vital to ensure the future of the tourism economy. Tanzania is also home to a number of large desert environments, and therefore providing the environment with the right resources will help ensure that the rivers continue to flow each season. 

4. Historical destinations that give tourists a glimpse of the past

Photo courtesy of National Geographic. Overview of the Kilwa ruins showcasing the vast ruins of the port city.
Kilwa ruins showcasing the vast ruins of the port city. Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Photo courtesy of National Geographic. Overview of the Kilwa ruins showcasing the vast ruins of the port city. 

 

Along with all of the amazing wildlife Southern Tanzania has to offer, there are also some historical attractions off the beaten path that are must-sees. One of them is the ruined medieval port of Kilwa, which lies on Kilwa Kisiwani. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of only two in all of Tanzania. Kilwa was the main port in a series of port cities that ran along the Swahili Coast. The city was well known for importing cotton, ceramics, Chinese porcelain, and silk, causing the city to grow in wealth. Today, the remaining structures of the Husuni Kubwa palace, Great Mosque, and the Gereza Fort make this ruined city a spectacular place to visit and learn about the history of the gold trade in Africa. The site also offers some impressive views over the Indian Ocean and some dreamy accommodation options. 

 

5. Engage with Unique Traditional Cultures

There are seven regions in Southern Tanzania: the Iringa, Morogoro, Mbeya, Njombe, Rukwa, Ruvuma, and Songwe regions. Each region contains unique cultures and traditions, born from the tribes who have lived there for centuries. At each point of your visit, you can participate in cultural activities to interact with local people. Interact with the Makonde of Southeastern

Tanzania and buy intricate masks and wood carvings from the black bark of the mpingo tree. In the Ruvuma, you can watch the Mganda traditional dance where dancers adorn white outfits to perform. In the rainforest climate of Morogoro, learn from the Waluguru tribe, as they tell you about their matriarchal society and teach you traditional agricultural techniques. These are just three examples of the dozens of cultures in the region. Come and see for yourself!

 

Aerial shot of Iringa Town, the gateway to the South
Aerial shot of Iringa Town, the gateway to the South

 

Tourist destinations in Northern Tanzania like Serengeti, Zanzibar, Ngorongoro, and Mount Kilimanjaro get all of tourist attention while the gems of the South remain unvisited. There are so many amazing tourist opportunities within Southern Tanzania. There is an abundance of wildlife and reserves, and the actions that they are taking to ensure a sustainable future will make it a destination for tourists to visit for years to come. Take a leap of faith and explore this incredible place. You won’t be disappointed! 

If you would like to learn more about Solimar International’s project in Southern Tanzania, check it out here. Keep up with Solimar – don’t forget to like us on Facebook and LinkedIn

 

Tatras Mountains Polad - Sustainable tourism poland

Red, White, and New: Efforts to Boost Sustainable Tourism in Poland

Here at Solimar International, we work to increase and promote sustainable and regenerative tourism around the world. We know that every country has its own unique challenges in implementing effective sustainable tourism. Poland has had difficulties creating and maintaining long-term plans for prioritizing eco-friendly tourism. The Eastern European country ranked number 112 on the World Economic Forum regarding sustainable tourism and development in 2015. Despite this low ranking, Poland’s potential for sustainable tourism is endless. With several UNESCO-listed heritage sites and biospheres available, most limitations to Poland’s potential are created from failure by local governments to communicate and educate citizens about sustainable development. In this blog, we will cover what has changed in terms of new efforts to help shift this lagging sector, and the immese tourism potential Poland has to transform itself into a leading global destination.

Tatras Mountains Polad - Sustainable tourism poland

Why Poland is Lagging in Sustainable Tourism

Before analyzing Poland’s direct control over its sustainability development, we must fully recognize the drawbacks of Poland’s history and tribulations caused by foreign control and influence over the region. One of the massive influences over Poland’s difficulty to regenerate to a healthier environment and tourism industry is the decades of Communist regime over the region that followed it’s Nazi occupation counterpart. Since the Communist regime and Nazi Occupation of Poland gave no breathing room for the country to have its own independence and development, the Communist regime squeezed out what little resources Poland had left. The communist regime heavily focused on shipbuilding and steel production, which ravaged nature within the region and destroyed much of the wildlife present, specifically within regions such as Katowice and Silesia.  Poland’s GDP only started seeing consistent uptakes around 1995, which, given the timeline that several other non-communist-controlled economies and countries had to develop mutual plans for sustainable development, is a minuscule amount of time. Additionally, given the sheer amount of poviats (Polish counties), it is difficult to process communication and collaboration for sustainable development efforts, with several of them holding other respective interests. When retrospectively looking at a countries’ development and what their major concerns are, we must also be considerate towards their drawbacks and their need to rapidly recover and industrialize due to the major temporal sink they’ve experienced. Although Poland has much to improve upon and change within their priorities, constant decade-long occupation shifts the countries’ collective priority and desires until those are met, which is why sustainable tourism was lower on the proverbial ladder. 

Gdańsk, 1988. Strike at the Lenin shipyard, photo: Chris Niedenthal / promotional materials
Gdańsk, 1988. Strike at the Lenin shipyard, photo: Chris Niedenthal / promotional materials

Poland’s New Efforts in Sustainable Tourism

Poland’s previously mentioned drawbacks do not, however, fully define its current attempts for change and a future outlook. As commonly known, Poland is part of the gargantuan EU, which grants its capabilities to focus on sustainable development on a larger and more assisted scale. Local and regional authorities across Europe have been pledging to work together to improve waste management and to make tourism more sustainable within their towns, with the city of Krakow being signed on the official charter. In specificity, this document will require these cities to “commit to reduce waste generation and improve waste management from tourists and tourism providers, including by promoting sustainable consumption”, with serious oversight by related authorities. 

Part of a better path towards sustainable tourism is also a clear recognition of the faults made by that region, and current active changes towards those faults. Poland’s CO2 emissions are notoriously high, with its 2015 emissions equaling almost 9% of the EU’s total emissions. A large aggressor contributing to this statistic is Poland’s large use of coal and lignite still present in its electricity making. But, with new proposed technology and policy solutions entering the frame, such as the Polish National Energy Conservation Agency and the Poland Energy Policy Simulator, these policies will help pull Poland out of its costly energy sinkhole. When progression within the reduction of unhealthy energy consumption is made, the sustainable tourism sector will be exponentially easier to maintain and create. Waste reduced and cleaner tourist attractions will help create a better traveling cycle in the first place!

Poland sustainable tourism destination development meeting

Poland’s Vast Sustainable Tourism Potential

Image Provided by the Polish Tourism Organisation. These are Wooden Tserkvas that could be a hope for growth in Poland's sustainable tourism
Wooden Tserkvas

How is it possible to consider the possibilities of tourism without envisioning what the country has to offer? Poland has a large variety of UNESCO sites that are listed on the Polish Tourism Organization website, including the multiple cultural attractions such as the Wooden Tserkvas (shown above) to the Malbork Castle! Poland also houses arguably the most important piece of history remaining from the second World War, with Auschwitz-Birkenau being built on Polish land by the Nazis. Poland also has a large amount of biosphere reserves to complement, with the famous Tatras, Babia Gora and Tuchola forest as popular tourist choices. Common sense dictates how tourist potential is actualized when people realize and highly anticipate going to that location, and Poland’s locations do just that. For everyone who values nature, history, and significant cultural locations, Poland is exactly the place.

Babia Gora, photo taken by Dawid Bernard showing beautiful mountains and potential for Poland's sustainable tourism
Babia Gora, photo taken by Dawid Bernard

 

Tuchola Forest, taken by Unique Poland-Discover Beauty
Tuchola Forest, taken by Unique Poland-Discover Beauty

 

 

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