Dwight D. Eisenhower Research Professor of Tourism Policy Chair
Chair of the International Institute of Tourism Studies
Hannah Messerli, Phd brings extensive experience in designing and advancing policies and initiatives that drive tourism as a tool for sustainable development. Throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, she has worked in both the public and private sectors, engaging a broad diversity of stakeholders to address the various factors contributing to the industry’s complex dynamics and providing destinations, governments and businesses with the guidance they need to realize the potential benefits of well-considered tourism projects.
Previously, Hannah worked at the World Bank as a Senior Private Sector Development Specialist in the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice. She specializes in identifying, assessing and measuring the efficacy of tools and practices applied to sustainable tourism development and management. Her research, analysis and technical policy work is particularly focused on countries emerging from crises or that are new to developing a tourism industry.
With a background in nature-based and cultural heritage tourism development, Hannah has worked with government agencies and businesses in countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho, Gambia, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Montenegro, Cyprus, Macedonia, Palestine, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, China, Thailand, Timor Leste, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Messerli served as a faculty member at New York University and has consulted for hotel and tourism companies globally. She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in hotel administration and tourism planning and development from Cornell University and a master’s degree in tourism planning from The George Washington University. Her publications include Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods, which she has presented at leading conferences and other forums globally.
Director, International Institute of Tourism Studies
Seleni Matus has spent more than 15 years designing and directing large, multi-stakeholder initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean that have enhanced the quality of tourism offerings and helped to ensure the long-term health of natural ecosystems. These include the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative and the Sustainable Destinations Alliance of the Americas.
A native of Belize, Matus served as the country’s Director of Tourism and oversaw the reorganization of the tourism board in order to meet the demands of a fiercely competitive global marketplace. She developed the country’s tour guide training and certification program and managed the Programme for Belize’s ecotourism tour operation and lodges.
In her recent capacity as Vice President of Global Programs at Sustainable Travel International, Seleni provided destination sustainability planning and policy support to more than 20 destinations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. She also helped multinational corporations such as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to develop and implement corporate strategies for destination stewardship.
Seleni is the co-author of publications including, Linking Communities, Tourism & Conservation: A Tourism Assessment Process, Tourism and Biodiversity: Mapping Tourism’s Global Footprint and From Ship to Shore: Sustainable Stewardship in Cruise Destinations. She was a founding member of the Mesoamerican Ecotourism Alliance and served on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s board of directors. She is a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism Committee, the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the Caribbean and Belize Marine Fund.
Salvador Anton Clavé
Senior Research Scholar
International Institute of Tourism Studies
In addition to his position with the Rovira i Virgili University in Catalonia, Spain—where he serves as a full professor of regional geographical analysis and directs the doctoral program in tourism and leisure— Salvador Anton Clavé is a senior scholar with the International Institute of Tourism Studies, helping to advance research around urban planning and the sustainable tourism partnership with Cuba. His works concentrates on the evolution of tourism destinations, urban and regional tourism planning, the analysis of the globalization of leisure, the impact of information and communication technologies in tourism destinations and issues concerning tourism policies and local development.
During the academic year 2015-16, as a visiting research scholar at The George Washington University, Salvador conducted joint research with the International Institute of Tourism Studies and the Center of Real Estate and Urban Analysis on good urban planning and the impacts of walkability on urban tourism performance in destinations including Washington D.C. For more information, please visit our blog.
Salvador served as director/dean of the Tourism and Leisure School/Faculty of Tourism and Geography at the Rovira I Virgili University between 2002 and 2014. Among his most relevant major publications are his books entitled The Global Theme Park Industry (CABI, 2007) Análisis Territorial del Turismo y Planificación de Destinos Turísticos (Tirant lo Blanch, 2011, co-authored with JF. Vera, F. López and M. Marchena), Geographies of Tourism: European Research Perspectives (Emerald, 2013, co-edited with J. Wilson) and Tourism Destination Evolution (Routledge, 2016, co-edited with P. Brouder, A. Gill and D. Ioannides).
Senior Research Scholar
International Institute of Tourism Studies
After spending most of his career at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) planning, designing, and managing tourism investment and sector loan projects for the Latin America and the Caribbean, Juan Luna-Kelser continues to consult on sustainable tourism projects for bilateral and multilateral financial institutions, as well as NGOs and private clients.
As an adjunct professor and senior research scholar at The George Washington University School of Business and International Institute of Tourism Studies, Luna-Kelser has taught courses in tourism policy analysis and community-based tourism and provided training in destination management, product development, ecotourism, workforce development, and rural and community-based tourism. Juan is also an advisor, facilitator and co-instructor to the University School of Business International Consulting Practicum Study Abroad Summer Program, involving graduate students in a six-week hands-on tourism consulting assignment. He coordinates the on-site portion of the UNWTO Themis Foundation/GW course Tourism as a Path to International Cooperation and Sustainable Development, which trains university graduates and professionals in subject areas related to international cooperation and development through tourism.
Juan holds a master’s degree in Tourism Administration with a concentration in Sustainable Destination Management from The George Washington University, as well as a master’s in Political Science from Drew University. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of the Pacific. Juan is originally from Mexico City and is fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese.
Anna Barrera is a research scholar at The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies, where she manages indigenous destination development projects with native communities and organizations. She has worked with tribes on local, regional and national tourism planning and capacity-building efforts including the co-management of NativeAmerica.travel for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and a destination strategy and public-private partnership development project for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Mexican Secretary of Tourism. Anna has extensive experience working with the private sector, including multinationals like Caesars Entertainment—where she works on sustainability strategy—and small tour operators, whom she helps with operations and visibility.
Anna earned a B.S. in sociology and communication studies from Northwestern University and a Master’s of Tourism Administration from The George Washington University School of Business, where she focused on sustainable destination management. Prior to tourism, she worked in institutional asset management for several years.
Executive in Residence
Founder, president, and chief executive officer of Solimar International, Chris Seek works with the International Institute of Tourism Studies on developing key strategic partnerships, advising students on employment opportunities and teaching on-line courses with Tourism as a Path to International Cooperation and Sustainable Development, the UNWTO Themis Foundation/GW program that trains university graduates and professionals in subject areas related to international cooperation and development through tourism.
As president of Solimar, Chris oversees the company’s strategic direction while ensuring its work supports conservation, preserves cultural heritage enhances the lives of local residents. Over the last ten years with Solimar, Chris has applied his professional background in marketing and corporate social responsibility with his own personal travel experiences (more than fifty 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.
Seek 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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