OUR TEAM

Solimar Staff

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Don Hawkins

Chairman and Principal

Dr. Don Hawkins, Solimar International’s Chairman and Principal is an expert in tourism policy, strategic planning, workforce development and management education with 52 years of international experience. Don held the endowed Eisenhower Professor of Tourism Policy Chair at the George Washington University School of Business. In 2003, he received the first World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Ulysses Prize for individual accomplishments in the creation and dissemination of knowledge in the area of tourism policy and strategic management. In 2012, he was elected as Vice Chairman of the UNWT0 Affiliates Council and appointed as Special Advisor to the UNWTO Secretary General for the Knowledge Network. He was the Founder and Chairman of the SAVE Travel Alliance, serves on the Board of Directors of the Ulysses Foundation and is Chairman Emeritus of Sustainable Travel International and Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance

Don has consulted all over the world including North American, Caribbean, Latin American, European, African, Middle East, and Asia/Pacific Regions. His doctoral degree was in Park Management, awarded by New York University in 1967. He is credited with over 114 publications, including books, journal articles, monographs, project reports and educational materials.

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Chris Seek

Chief Executive Officer

Chris Seek oversees the strategic direction of the sustainable tourism company while ensuring the organization’s work supports environmental conservation, cultural heritage preservation, and enhances the lives of local residents. Based in Washington DC, Chris manages Solimar’s staff of more then 20 tourism professionals working in over 17 countries. Chris leads new business efforts, strategic partnerships, and ensures all of Solimar’s clients are able to connect to the tourism market.

Over the last 12 years with Solimar, Chris has applied his professional background in marketing and corporate social responsibility with his own personal travel experiences (more then 50 countries) to design sustainable tourism development strategies that provide tangible results to both our clients and targeted beneficiaries. Prior to working in tourism, Chris worked as a marketing professional for Fortune 500 clients including Heineken, Sony, Perrier, GE, and others. Chris holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from Wake Forest University and a Masters of Business Administration from American University with concentrations in Sustainable Destination Management and Integrated Marketing Communications.

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Jim Phillips

Principal

Jim Phillips has 30 years of experience in international tourism consulting, including strategic planning for tourism development, small business and microenterprise development, hotel and tourism-related investment promotion, marketing and promotion, feasibility studies and economic impact analyzes. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Jim worked for Arthur Andersen LLP and Arthur Consulting Group International, completing assignments in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Russia, and the Middle East. Jim also served as Director of Tourism Development Programs for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Latin America and the Caribbean, where he conducted programs and events for more than 30 countries in the LA/C region. Programs included hotel investment missions and conferences, investment promotion strategy development, tourism planning, and product development and assessment missions. Work at the Commerce Department also included providing technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses to establish and operate a range of tourism and export-oriented enterprises.

Jim holds a Bachelor's degree in economics from Eckerd College and a Master's degree in International Business from the American Graduate School of International Management, Thunderbird campus.

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Natalie Sellier

Chief Operating Officer

Natalie Sellier has over twenty years of professional experience in finance, accounting, business planning, and project management. Natalie originally joined Solimar in 2007, utilizing her business background and passion for travel to assist small tourism enterprises and destination management organizations achieve financial sustainability by way of strategic business planning, public-private partnerships, and market linkages. As Chief Operating Officer, Natalie has assumed leadership over Solimar’s internal operations, oversees contracting and financial management, supports business development efforts, and assists technical staff achieve programmatic objectives. Natalie brings technical expertise through her involvement in the implementation of over 100 technical programs and is well-versed in the intricacies of both federal and donor contracting and cost accounting standards.


Natalie holds a Bachelor's in Business Administration from James Madison University and a Master's in Business Administration from The George Washington University with a degree focus in sustainable destination management.

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Matthew Humke

Director of Social Enterprise

Over the last twenty years, Matt Humke has pioneered an approach to building community-based tourism enterprises that directly support biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation efforts in protected areas throughout the developing world. First working with Native American communities such as the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona, next as Rare Conservation's Senior Manager of Enterprises in Latin America & the Caribbean, and now managing Solimar's small business development projects around the world.

The community-based tourism enterprises Matt has helped to establish, such as "La Ruta Moskitia" in Honduras, have generated more than $5 million for local economies over the last ten years. The success of these enterprises in conservation and poverty alleviation has resulted in a number of the industry's top honors, including a Tourism for Tomorrow award, a Responsible Tourism award, and inclusion on both Condé Nast Traveler's "Green List" and National Geographic Adventure's "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth".

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Ivane (Vano) Vashakmadze

USAID Georgia Economic Security Program

Mr. Ivane Vashakmadze brings more than 30 years of working experience in tourism sector as mountain climber and guide, resort operator and development consultant. He has worked as a project manager and lead consultant for the international cooperation projects with various donor organizations and public institutions such as World Bank, USAID, EU, KfW, GiZ, SDC, ADA, WWF etc. Amongst the other specific tasks, he has been working on tourism sector national and regional strategies, institutional policy, protected areas (National Parks) and eco-tourism planning, cultural heritage management, tourism economic assessment and land use planning and urban planning, mountain resorts management and adventure tourism operations.

Mr. Vashakmadze has also experience to work in public sector as a deputy general manager of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation, acting head of Georgian National Tourism Administration and GM of government JSC "Gudauri ski resort".

He has solid experience of developing tourism sector initiatives and recommendations for tourism strategy, assisting public institutions in heritage management and policy regulations, developing employment opportunities and SME development projects within tourism sector, assessing investment proposals for regional development and tourism, supporting business initiatives in tourism and hospitality services, implementing small scale pilot project in mountainous areas etc. In addition, he has been engaged in conducting tourism scoping assessment in Central Asian countries under USAID CTJ project.

Mr. Vashakmadze is a member of several organizations in tourism sector. He is a Co-Founder and board member of "Georgian Mountain Guide Association", steering committee member of "Adventure Tourism Leaders school", board member of bio-farming association "Elkana", founder member of "European Mountain Forum" and Co-founder of "European Mountain Forum" / "Global Mountain Forum", Member of World Bank experts group, etc...

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António D.M. Gusmão

USAID Tourism for All Program, Timor-Leste

António D.M. Gusmão is currently serving as the Senior Business Development Specialist for USAID's Tourism For All Project in Timor-Leste. António has more than 20 years working experience both in the private and public sectors. Antonio has dedicated more than 10 years in the development of tourism sector while served as a national adviser to the Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry with specific assignment to the directorate of Finance and Administration, Directorate of Research and Development and the Directorate of Tourism Planning and Development. Antonio has a long employment with different USAID projects in community development as well as with Australian funded project (AUSAID) managing high profile interventions in the areas of tourism, agribusiness, rural distribution, and manufacturing. Antonio holds a Bachelor degree in Economics from the Catholic University of Atma Jaya in Jakarta, Indonesia.


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Taufiq Rahman

Deputy Chief of Party, USAID Bangladesh Ecotourism and Conservation Alliance 

Taufiq Rahman has 28 years’ experience on tourism business development in Bangladesh and South Asian (India, Nepal, Srilanka, Bhutan etc.) countries. Also having more than 10 years demonstrated experience in collaboration and coordination with the Bangladesh Tourism Board under Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Government of Bangladesh for development of Tourism products. Currently supporting Bangladesh Tourism Board & Ministry of Civil Aviation & Tourism, for the Preparation of Bangladesh Tourism Master Plan (BTMP) as Inbound Tour Operator Expert. Over last 20 years, he has engaged as a Training consultant with National Hotel & Tourism Training Institute ( NHTTI), Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, Department of Tourism & Hospitality Management, University of Dhaka, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( DCCI) & Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh ( TOAB) to enhance capacity of the tourism sector of Bangladesh. He has commendable experience in developing training curriculum, module and learning materials for the trainees as well as trainers.

He holds Master of Business Administration degree from Bangladesh, Diploma in Hotel Management, Nicosia, Cyprus, Certificate from WES institute in Brugge, Belgium on Tourism Marketing Planning, Certificate from School of Travel Industry Management, University of Hawaii, USA on Executive Development Institute for Tourism (EDIT), MICE Professional Development Programme from Srilankan Convention Bureau, Kandy, Srilanka and Certificate from School of Hotel & Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. He was the Global Board member of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA – Global), Secretary General of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Bangladesh chapter & Former 1st. Vice President of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB).

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Chloe King

Director of Conservation and Community Development 

Chloe King is a marine conservationist, social scientist, and nature-based solutions specialist, passionate about using tourism to improve outcomes for people and nature. As a PADI Divemaster, Chloe both worked in the marine tourism industry and led research projects in Indonesia and Timor-Leste as a Boren Scholar, Projects for Peace Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar, gaining fluency in Bahasa Indonesia while engaging with coastal communities across the archipelago. At Solimar, she has managed numerous USAID-funded projects, including establishing a thriving DMO in Timor-Leste; enhancing conservation outcomes for tourism in the Sundarbans Reserve Forest of Bangladesh; leading private sector engagement in climate adaptation in Sri Lanka and the Maldives; and writing the COVID-19 recovery strategy for the government of Georgia. She is leading research into how tourism can better facilitate and finance nature-based solutions in response to the climate emergency. 

Chloe holds a BA in International Affairs (George Washington University), an MSc in Marine Systems and Policies (University of Edinburgh), and an MPhil in Conservation Leadership (University of Cambridge) where she was a Marshall Scholar. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, working with the Ministry of the Galápagos to create their tourism recovery strategy post-COVID-19.


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Micah Sorum

Senior Project Manager

Micah is a social scientist with experience managing USAID projects in Nigeria, Colombia, and Central Asia. Before working as a project manager in international development, she conducted qualitative research in Honduras and Nicaragua, taught English at a public university in Brazil as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, and led volunteer and educational trips in Nicaragua and Thailand. Micah first knew she wanted to be involved in international work when she moved to Nicaragua to learn Spanish after high school. Since then, she has been dedicated to learning about people and places around the world and supporting community development, with a focus on education and health.

Micah holds a BA in Sociology and Spanish Language and Literature from Westmont College and an MA in Anthropology with a graduate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of South Carolina.


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Jenny Lundt

Content and Community Manager 

Previous to joining the Solimar team, Jenny has explored her passion for adventure, exploring 80+ countries and working on-the-ground dozens of international development projects, notably in Thailand, Morocco, Ecuador, Somaliland, Indonesia, Nepal, Jordan, and Brazil. Most recently, she received a prestigious Fulbright grant to live in Malaysian Borneo. As a Davis Foundation Projects for Peace Fellow researching tourism and women’s livelihoods on Ataúro Island, Timor-Leste, Jenny first heard of Solimar after a serendipitous run-in with a local consultant. Several years since, she has used her background in travel writing and strategic planning to contribute positively to Solimar’s portfolio. Most of her team duties involve communications, and ensuring that destination messaging is consistent and engaging. Recently, Jenny has taken on more project management roles. Jenny holds a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.


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Nino Chkhaberidze

Program Manager

Nino is passionate about travel and believes that sharing culture and creating new connections makes life better. Therefore, she is determined to further spread the idea of sustainable tourism and see how tourism changes in this digital world.

Last year, with a friend, Nino started a project Sight Georgia to share the information through a website about travel and culture in Georgia. We want to inspire people to travel in Georgia and discover amazing spots, heartwarming hospitality and experience unforgettable moments. Previously, she has been working as an event manager and a project coordinator for several years in the tourism industry with experience in marketing. She was also a travel consultant for Swiss travel agency for 5 years.

Nino holds a BSc in Social Science and Governance and is currently an Orange Knowledge Program fellow doing master studies in Tourism, Society and Environment at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands.


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Caecilia Shenshen He

Program Associate

Caecilia is a cultural and heritage tourism lover that fell deeply in love with travelling at a very young age. As a backpacker, she visited South Korea, China, Myanmar, Hongkong, Tibet, India, Morocco, USA, Canada, Spain, and other less popular destinations. As an experienced and passionate sustainable tourism professional with a demonstrated history of working in the leisure, travel & tourism industry, Caecilia is skilled in Destination Management, Destination planning and development, Event Planning, Tourism product development, Tour Operation, Travel Management and so on. Caecilia has her BA in Accounting from McGill University and has her Master in Tourism Administration program from the George Washington University with a major in sustainable destination management.

In her own words: “In order to protect destination communities and sustain cultural heritage destinations for future generations, my true passion is to help cultural heritage destinations around the world to be developed in a sustainable way. Since Solimar is a leading sustainable tourism consulting firm, I could learn about good practice experiences that can help destinations in improving sustainably. In addition, the most important reason to attract me to work for Solimar is the Solimar Team, who are the group of expertise working in the sustainable tourism industry with the pursuit of authenticity, historic values, and development of cultural traditions at all destinations.”

Specialists and Advisors

Solimar works with a large network of tourism consultants around the world that bring specialized skill sets to our projects. Below is a list of our key sustainable tourism specialists and advisors.
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Maria Lucia Prinz

Tourism Specialist

Maria Lucia Prinz started working in tourism 15 years ago as a tour guide while studying ecotourism in Guatemala City. When graduated from the university, she started working in Peten, Guatemala, developing community based tourism enterprises and linking theses enterprises to support conservation.

Since then she has helped develop a number of ecotourism enterprises in Central, South America, Africa and the Caribbean and specializes in product development, staff training in tourism operations and nature guide training through a proven methodology. She also has expertise in the areas of business planning, product development, sales and marketing.

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Juan Luna-Kelser

Tourism Specialist

Juan Luna-Kelser made a career at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). In the last ten years of his career, he concentrated his efforts in the planning, designing, and managing of tourism investment loan projects, as well as technical assistance operations. Since his retirement from the IDB in January 2007, Juan has been advising and consulting for Solimar International and continues to be engaged by bilateral and multilateral financial institutions, as well as NGOs and private clients for the development and implementation of sustainable tourism projects in various countries.

Currently, Juan is a Sr. Research Scholar at the International Institute of Tourism Studies at George Washington University’s School of Business. He holds a Masters degree in Tourism Administration with a concentration in Sustainable Destination Management from George Washington University, as well as a Masters degree in Political Science from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. He earned his Bachelors degree in Political Science at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California. Juan is originally from Mexico City and is fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

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Natasha Martin

Tourism Specialist

Natasha Martin is an adventure tourism marketing expert. She has experience working with private sector, government and trade associations, and has worked with clients around the world from Greenland to Namibia.  She currently conducting  research into the motivations and preferences of Asian adventure travellers, and working with destinations and companies to help them reach this growing segment.

Natasha has a BA in African History from Concordia University and a Masters of Tourism Administration from The George Washington University. Natasha speaks French and Spanish and is based in Hong Kong.

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Bradley Weiss

Tourism Specialist

Bradley Weiss is a tourism development consultant who has worked with Solimar on numerous assignments over the past ten years. Most notably, he spent four years with Solimar in Ethiopia leading the private sector competitiveness and workforce development efforts for a Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance (GSTA) Project. During this period, he also lent support to a similar GSTA project in Uganda. 

Previously, he worked at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), where he mobilized educational institutions to aid member nations in areas such as training, knowledge management, and strategic planning. He has also gathered experience in tourism development through consulting engagements in countries such as Mozambique, Ecuador, Philippines, Botswana, Peru, Madagascar, Vanuatu, Kenya, Brazil, Armenia, Mali, Panama, Rwanda, Seychelles, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Lesotho, São Tome e Príncipe, Cape Verde, and Zambia. His consulting work in these countries, conducted primarily through World Bank and USAID-financed initiatives, has been in the areas of tourism policy & planning, capacity building, marketing, public-private dialogues, quality standards, shared economy, and community enterprise development.

Bradley holds Master’s degrees from the George Washington University in Tourism Administration and Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Spain) in International Tourism and Hotel Management.

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Olivier Messmer

Tourism Specialist

Olivier Messmer joined Solimar in September 2008 to work on USAID-Dominican Republic Sustainable Tourism Alliance program. With a strong knowledge of the eco-tourism sector, Olivier was responsible for community tourism product development, including helping to promote and link these new enterprises to the market. Since 2010, Olivier has mainly worked in African destinations (including the Marrakech and Fez Medinas, High Atlas and Sahara desert in Morocco, Benin, Madagascar and Ghana) where he was in charge of several tourism development projects financed by USAID, The World Bank, Millenium Challenge Corporation, UNDP and GIZ. Olivier has extensive experience managing international development projects in Western Africa and a wide network of European Tour Operator contacts, particularly in France. Olivier has over 15 years experience in tourism marketing, tourism product development, development of public private partnerships and tourism investment promotion. Olivier holds a joint Erasmus Master degree in International Business from Bordeaux Business School, France and the University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

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Hitesh Mehta

Tourism Specialist

Hitesh is an Architect, Landscape Architect, Interior Architect, Destination Physical Planner, Protected Area Planner, and is a multi-International award winning planner and designer with Awards in Landscape Architecture, Planning, Architecture, Urban Design, Creative Writing and Interior Design. He is considered by his peers as the world’s leading authority, practitioner and researcher on sustainable tourism/ecotourism physical planning and both the landscape architectural and architectural aspects of ecolodges. Hitesh has over 34 years’ experience, having worked and consulted in 66 countries on six continents. Hitesh has for many years, led teams in the design and development of some of the most iconic eco-friendly resorts including: The Crosswaters Eco-resort and Spa in China is one of the most highly awarded international hospitality projects; Nihi Resort in Indonesia was identified as the Top Hotel in the world by Travel and Leisure for two consecutive years (2016 and 2017) and Hitesh’s office has been for the past few years, been working on the first Six Senses Galapagos Eco-Resort and Spa in South America.

His expertise is also on how to empower indigenous and local communities during the Planning/Design processes. He has worked on projects where tourism is used to channel money from tourists to local communities - Madagascar, Western Uganda, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, DR Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Nepal, Australia, Timor Leste and Colombia. As the designated Landscape Architect and Sustainable Tourism Physical Planner, Hitesh has provided Master and Site Plans to help create destinations that are low-impact and are a win-win-win - financially, environmentally and socially

He is an author of three books, including award winning “Authentic Ecolodges” by world renowned publisher - Harper Collins.  In July 2006, National Geographic Adventure magazine identified Hitesh as one of five Sustainable Tourism Pioneers in the world mainly because of his Master Planning work to protect endangered habitat and alleviate human poverty. He has been featured / interviewed / mentioned in over 195 international magazines, newspapers, books, newsletters and blogs.  

Hitesh Mehta is one of the founding members of the Global Ecotourism Network and was the longest serving Board member of The International Ecotourism Society. Mr. Mehta is also an Adjunct Professor (at FIU), a Professional Public Speaker and Photographer, and a Hall of Fame Cricket Player from Kenya.

Summer 2022 Interns

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Hannah McDonnell

Intern

Hannah 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.  


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Veronica Santa

Intern

I am from Milan (Italy) but moved to England 11 years ago. Here I worked in various business operation support roles which allowed me to develop valuable and transferrable skills. Travelling, working and studying abroad has offered me the opportunity to interact at a personal and professional level with people from different cultural backgrounds, to develop a teamwork attitude and improve my communication skills. Just as Covid-19 arrived, I decided to take on a new challenge and to get into higher education. I am 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 year 1, I found myself hooked to the topic and I wish to contribute to the sustainable tourism practice whilst pursuing a passionate career in tourism management. I am so excited to join Solimar’s internship program because I can’t wait to learn more about sustainable tourism, the approach taken on it in all the different projects and to do my part to contribute to it too! I enjoy travelling to new places and in the recent years I have also become an outdoors enthusiast, so I am always ready to take a hike to discover all the stunning places that this world has to offer!


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Bertuğ Kıymaz

Intern

Bertuğ 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. As well as, he 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 interestest 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 a volunteer internship with Solimar International.


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Miles Rieker

Intern

Miles 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 and the surrounding areas of the projects. 

 


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Stephanie Romero

Intern

Stephanie 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. 


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Ethan Bollert

Intern
Ethan 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 focused on sustainable and ethical tourism development could have, which has led him to pursue it as a career, starting with 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

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Asfar Ahmad

Intern

This is Afsar Ahmad. I am a Bangladeshi citizen. I am currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have completed my Bachelor on Hospitality Management from Niels Brock Copenhagen Business College. Currently I am pursuing my masters on Tourism at Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark. As a part of my study curriculum, I have the advantage of taking an internship at a tourism organization. I am so thrilled and happy that I have been given an opportunity to take an internship at solimar International. I believe throughout my internship journey at Solimar I will enhance my knowledge on tourism industry as well as this internship will help me in my future career path.


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Izabela Soja

Intern

My name is Izabela, and I am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in International Tourism Management at the University of Lincoln in the UK. For Master’s, I am planning to study Sustainable Development as I would like to learn more holistically about sustainability and environment in general. I am originally from Poland, but I moved to the UK almost 2 years ago. I am passionate about all things travel, research, social media and content creation which is why I’m so excited to be joining Solimar International this summer! My biggest travel memory to date is when I went on a cultural exchange programme with Camp America – I was working for 3 months as a counsellor at one of the American summer camps in North Carolina and after that, I was travelling around the states for over 3 weeks. My hopes are to make a real difference in the tourism industry and to promote sustainable and responsible travel as the only way forward.


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Isaac Herzog

Intern

Isaac 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’s 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. 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.


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Ece Zivrali 

Intern

Ece 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.





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Teona Zhuzhunadze

Intern

Teona 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 has changed her career path a few years ago when she moved to her hometown and started working in tourism. 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 much 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 MA in higher education administration and currently, she is pursuing her PhD in higher education management.


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Dalia Hammad

Intern

Dalia 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.


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Janis Rehme

Intern

While working towards finishing his BA in International Tourism Management at Saxion UAS in the Netherlands, Janis has gained practical experience in a diverse range of businesses. Not only working as B2C and B2B customer service representative for a tour operator organizing a major event and as an event specialist for the event brand of a disruptive online booking platform but also working as a coach and ambassador for his university, he was able to pick up on many different skills. Furthermore, with a focus on sustainability in his honours program and his acquired knowledge on urban planning and placemaking within a minor, he brings a unique perspective to the table. As an avid traveller with a passion for exploring nature and meeting people from other cultures, he is eager to expand his knowledge with Solimar.


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Abby Aasen

Intern

Abby is from Minnesota and has an MBA concentrated in sustainability with a bachelors in environmental policy. Sustainable tourism combines her passion for travel and her passion to protect the planet. She has been to 18 countries, living in Panama and Spain for short periods of time. Abby first learned about sustainable tourism from the Mashpi Hotel in Quito and is hoping to help other hotels develop similar sustainable business plans in the future. Abby has experience in the tourism industry from working with Travel Beyond, where she met with camp owners in country and in the US, was responsible for Travel Beyond’s conservation fund donations and focused on supporting conservation efforts in south and east Africa. Abby is very excited to be working on the Sugar River Region project, where she can apply her ecology knowledge from her time at the University of New Hampshire.  


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Annie Combs

Intern

Annie 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, while working at 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.


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Deanna Elliott

Intern

Deanna 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.


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Sanjana Patel

Intern

Sanjana 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 combatting 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.


jenny-intern

Constantin L

Intern

Constantin is a graduate student at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden where he is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Sustainability and Tourism. He was able to explore many disciplines in the tourist business with his bachelor's degree in tourism management, including hospitality, destination management, and cruise tourism. His curiosity about cultures and countries, which stems from the experience of living in various countries, ultimately sparked his interest in sustainable travel. His experience of living in the American midwest will be helpful for the project he has been assigned, as he will be working on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail. He's looking forward to working with Solimar this summer and expanding his horizons on a variety of levels.


“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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    Washington, DC 20001
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    (202) 518-6192