A Day in the Life of a CEO – Chris Seek of Solimar International

For my internship I have the privilege to work with one of the world’s top sustainable tourism consulting firms, Solimar International. Their work enhances destinations and inspires travelers to visit them, through strategic planning, tourism development, tourism partnerships, tourism marketing, and training and education.

Chris Seek
Chris Seek

Chris Seek is the founder, president and CEO of Solimar. I had the good fortune to shadow Chris for a day. For this post I want to share about that day – a typical day in the life of Solimar’s CEO.

  • We started the morning at a coffee shop meeting with a representative of The World Bank, where they discussed projects in Sri Lanka and Albania, as well as extending their existing work in Nepal in support of the recent earthquake relief efforts.
  • We walked several blocks where Chris gave a presentation about the value of sustainable tourism to a group of tourism ministry representatives from 19 countries, invited by of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (photo above).
  • After a quick bite of lunch, we were off to meet with Chemonics, an employee-owned international development company, to discuss a potential future project in Madagascar. In 2005 Solimar created the country’s travel website to follow the publicity created by the Disney movie, “Madagascar.”

The World Bank 051315After Chris showed me The World Bank Group InfoShop Bookstore (imagine a Barnes and Noble full of World Bank publications and resources), the last stop was a meeting inside the tightly-secured World Bank. In this three hour meeting, with The World Bank project manager and a Bhutanese consultant who happened to be in town, Chris reviewed the detailed plan for the project to implement Bhutan’s draft Heritage Sites Bill.


Realizing that he had to be at a Columbia Heights community meeting across town, we walked outside of The World Bank, where Chris found a Car2Go. After tapping his membership card to the windshield, we zipped in this car back to the office, where the 11th Street Business Alliance was planning the annual festival that Solimar helped launch to bring the neighborhood together.

It was a busy day for a busy man, and all of this was before he went home to his favorite job, that of husband and father.

Solimar International – I am fortunate to be their intern

After years of working in a variety of roles in the travel industry and in sustainability, I returned to grad school to study sustainable tourism. One exciting requirement of the graduate degree is an internship.

For my internship I have the privilege to work with one of the world’s top sustainable tourism consulting firms, Solimar International. Solimar is a tourism development and marketing firm that Solimar logobelieves in the transformative power of sustainable tourism. Their integrated, market-oriented tourism solutions are designed to grow economies, enhance livelihoods, celebrate cultures, and conserve natural resources. Their work on 80+ programs has taken them to more than 200 destinations around the world for over a dozen years to support global development through sustainable tourism.

Solimar is based in Washington, D.C. and has strategic alliances with such impressive partners such as The National Geographic Society, The Smithsonian Institution, and the UN World Tourism Organization. Providing end-to-end solutions, their clients include The World Bank, USAID, WWF, The Walton Family Foundation, and governments and ministries of tourism around the world.

Their accomplishments are impressive:

Solimar impact

The founder, president and CEO of Solimar is Chris Seek – a high-energy, highly-regarded, passionate and driven professional. I started my internship in early May, after Chris identified several projects that matched my interests and background, but that also provided an opportunity to learn and add value to Solimar. Prior to traveling to their office in Washington, I conducted a significant amount of research on each of the projects.

Chris and the Solimar team welcomed me in Washington and were generous in their explanations of the projects. We focused on a top priority, working with The World Bank to implement Bhutan’s draft Heritage Sites Bill.

Bhutan countryside. Credit: www.besttourism.com
Bhutan countryside. Credit: http://www.besttourism.com

About Bhutan: The small country of Bhutan is a mystically intriguing kingdom in the Himalayas, nestled between India and China. In part to guard its precious ancient traditions, the country was completely cut off to outsiders until the 1970s. Bhutan’s breathtaking scenery, and deep cultural ancient Buddhist traditions, make it an intriguing tourist destination. Bhutan is now facing unprecedented challenges related to economic liberalization, bringing an inflow of modern influences and materialistic aspirations.  

About the project: The draft Heritage Sites Bill is an effort to safeguard the country’s national cultural landscape and identity across generations. The primary goal of the project is to identify and prioritize cultural heritage sites for the Royal Government of Bhutan using an asset-based approach to conserve cultural landscape, improve living conditions and create economic opportunities.

I am very excited about engaging with Solimar, and working on the Bhutan project. I will post more about this project, and my involvement, as it progresses.