Tag: #travelindustry

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! 

 

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

tourism planning trends

What is Tourism Planning? 

Tourism planning consists of creating strategies to develop tourism in a specific destination. Knowing and understanding current trends allows those in the industry to tailor their operations to meet demand. It is crucial for DMOs and tourism businesses to stay up-to-date.  

Origin and development of tourism planning

Tourism planning was born from the necessity of simultaneously balancing the economic goals of tourism and preserving the destination’s environment and local welfare. It arose in the second half of the 1990s, when mass tourism brought an unparalleled change in the travel environment. Consequently, the industry had to develop new standards to adapt to this change. 

The aim of tourism planning

The current objective of tourism planning is to control tourism’s unprecedented expansion to limit its negative social and environmental effects, while maximizing its benefits to locals. 

These goals can be reached by:   

  1. Analyzing the development of tourism in the destination
  2. Examining the state of affairs in a specific area and executing a competitive analysis
  3. Drafting tourism policies
  4. Defining a development strategy and actionable steps

Businesses looking for support through this process can reach out to Solimar International or check out this free toolkit. Solimar has a dedicated team of staff who employ a wide range of skills to promote economic growth, environmental preservation, and cultural heritage conservation. 

developing strategies and planning are key to improving destination tourism
Planning development strategies are necessary to improve tourism.

Why is Tourism Planning Important? 

Tourism planning should be part of destination development plans because it supports a destination’s long term success and incentivizes the collaboration of key stakeholders.

Tourism planning maximizes tourism benefits like: 

  • Promotion of local heritage and cross-cultural empathy
  • Optimization of tourism revenue
  • Natural environment and resource protection

Tourism planning also minimizes tourism drawbacks such as: 

  • Overtourism, and consequently anti-tourism feelings
  • Economic leakage
  • Disrespect for the local culture
  • Damage to the local environment

Tourism planning is also important because, by creating plans and strategies, destinations provide an example that other destinations can follow to improve tourism in their area. It ensures that the destination is consistent with changing market trends, constantly addressing tourist and resident needs as they arise. 

This was made clear in the Cayman Islands. The surge of cruise tourism caused a massive influx of tourists, which brought new challenges to the small islands. Consequently, the destination’s goal shifted from attracting tourists to sustainably managing them. The development of a National Tourism Management Plan was key to provide stakeholders with the tools they needed for sustainable tourism management. 

What are the Newest Tourism Trends?

In the planning process, it is fundamental to consider how new tourism trends influence the future of tourism planning and allow destination strategies to stay innovative.

1. Safety and Cleanness

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about significant change to tourism and tourists’ perception of travel. Tourists are now more concerned about safety and cleanliness. They have a preference for private home rental, contactless payments, and booking flexibility due to the constantly-evolving global health situation. They are also more willing to visit natural environments and less crowded destinations where they feel safer.

Tips for DMOs: Have safety and cleanliness standards, allow flexible bookings and contactless payments, and focus on open-air experiences. 

An excellent example of these practices is Thailand, which decided to boost tourism after Covid-19 by rebranding itself as a safe tourist destination, issuing safety certificates to infrastructures to build public trust. 

2. Social Media

Social media is the preferred channel for travel inspiration, influencing travelers’ decision-making because videos and pictures create an emotional bond between people and places. 

The preferred platform depends on the traveler’s generation:

  • Gen X uses Pinterest and aesthetically pleasing blogs
  • Millennials use Instagram
  • Gen Z uses TikTok

Generation Z is also more willing to travel after Covid, and they will have  high spending power in the next few years

Video content is favorable because of the high engagement and interaction it creates compared to pictures. In this context, TikTok is the future of travel marketing. On this fast-growing platform, videos are likely to become viral because of the app’s algorithm. For example, the travel campaign #TikTokTravel, where people were invited to share videos of their past trips, was viewed by 1.7 billion people

tourists use social media like Instagram to plan travel
A tourist searches for Instagrammable locations

Tips for DMOs: DMOs can use TikTok to promote attractions, restaurants, and tours partnering with influencers. Social media can attract new customers, monitor Instagrammable locations, and manage overcrowding by promoting lesser-known areas. This all helps shift tourists away from hot spots. 

Follow Solimar International’s success with social media promotion through their World Heritage Journeys of the European Union project. By providing research, media-rich itineraries, website promotion, and mobile maps, Solimar International can help your organization reach its target audience.

3. BLeisure Travel

Due to technology, the separation between work and life is blurred. This premise gives birth to the BLeisure travel, a genre of travel that combines business and leisure. Aside from those who travel for work, combining some leisure during their stay, there is an increasing number of digital nomads. These people are freelancers or smart workers who decide to adopt a traveling lifestyle. They will look for business hotels where they can easily obtain a fast Internet connection and a good working environment.

Some destinations are rebranding themselves, targeting those who work remotely. A good example is Aruba, which promotes itself as a paradise for workation.  

BLeisure tourists could work from their favorite destinations
How working as a BLeisure tourist could look

4. Destination Uniqueness

The tourism market is becoming increasingly competitive, especially for destinations with similar climates or natural features. To stand out, destinations need to focus on their distinctive assets. Places should identify a destination brand, which highlights their culture and the unique experiences they offer to tourists, instead of branding common and widely-available tourism practices.

An example of destination uniqueness as a trend of tourism planning is Uganda, which is widely known as a safari destination. The country rebranded itself by focusing on its one-of-a-kind cultures, landscapes, food, and traditions, labeling itself “The Pearl of Africa.” This is one aspect of Uganda’s tourism planning process. By identifying and promoting a destination brand, Uganda aims to develop an immersive tourism for meaningful and transformative experiences abroad. 

5. Transformative Travel 

Transformative travel is an expression of the experience economy combined with experiential travel. The latter is about living once-in-a-lifetime, off-the-beaten-track experiences rather than conventional ones, connecting visitors with local cultures. 

Transformative travel is defined by the Transformational Travel Council as:

 “intentionally traveling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world.”

Therefore, transformative travel is an immersive experience that aims to inspire personal transformation, growth, and self-fulfillment. People travel to transform their own lives and the lives of those who live in the destination. 

Tips for DMOs: Destinations should focus on providing unique and authentic experiences that connect travelers with locals. This enables tourists to experience local culture, food, and lifestyles, lending way to authentic experiences that they are sure to remember.

6. Sustainability and Community Engagement

Travelers are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact, and they are more willing to adopt a sustainable travel style. This means not only doing less harm to the environment, but also making a positive impact on cultures and economies, generating mutually beneficial relationships between tourists and locals.

An excellent example of a country that stays ahead of trends in tourism planning is Jamaica. Instead of boosting sun and beach tourism development, Jamaica has recently focused on community-based tourism, providing several experiences that empower locals. 

By focusing on poverty reduction, gender empowerment, equality and employment, Jamaica utilizes tourism to achieve social justice goals. 

Similarly, Solimar contributed to an Artisan Development project in Morocco. By strengthening the connection between local artisans and tourists, Marrakech and Fez saw a significant increase in direct selling to consumers, which contributed to increased local welfare.

developing sustainable framework is ket to the tourism planning process
Giving tourism a sustainable framework is a necessity for tourism planning

7. Technology to Manage Overtourism

The rise of charter flights boosted mass tourism. This has pressurized cities, raising the debate on the limits of acceptable change and generating anti-tourism sentiments among residents. One example of this is in Sedona, Arizona, where we helped manage visitor flow by marketing and promoting the nearby towns and attractions in Arizona’s Verde Valley

Tips for DMOs: Destinations should exploit technological advances to develop crowd management techniques. Some DMOs used gamification to manage tourism flow, spreading visitors in less known or less crowded areas. This is popular in London, for example, with the Play London with Mr. Bean app, a program that allows tourists navigate to different parts of the city and find points of interest quickly. This gives the city the opportunity to redirect tourist flows to spread-out spots in London.

To learn more about the tourism planning process and future trends in the tourism industry, visit our Institute for Sustainable Destinations website today. 

By Greta Dallan & Hannah Lambert

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!

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.

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“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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