Glion supports sustainable tourism with Sumba Hospitality Foundation

After many years spent away from the hospitality industry, Glion alumna Inge de Lathauwer ’89 was working with charities when she learned about the catastrophic impact of poorly planned tourism development in some parts of the world. She decided to create a non-profit hospitality organization that would model the right way to develop tourism, and she created Sumba Hospitality Foundation (SHF).

In 2015, Glion formed a partnership with the foundation and the student-led Glion Charity Committee adopted the cause for their fund-raising activities. This partnership has raised students’ awareness on the topic of sustainable tourism and sustainable development in the hospitality industry, an essential issue for future managers and leaders.

Glion’s partnership with Sumba and the GCC

In 2015, Glion Institute of Higher Education began a partnership with Sumba Hospitality Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Inge De Lathauwer ‘89. Glion agreed at this moment to give financial support to develop a Sustainable Tourism Development Plan for Sumba.

The research is lead by Sue Clark, a faculty member of the Online MBA program and guest lecturer at Glion Institute of Higher Education who is also a consultant in sustainable tourism. The results of the research will be shared with Glion students and communicated throughout the industry worldwide. In 2016, the student-led Glion Charity Committee (GCC) began raising funds for Sumba Hospitality Foundation, bringing the issue of sustainable tourism development to the heart of Glion’s Student Government Association (SGA).

Sumba Hospitality Foundation promotes sustainable tourism on the wild, little Indonesian island of Sumba, and it serves as a model for tourism development in other places, by providing education as a foundation for sustainable practices. Their aim is “to provide hospitality and agricultural development education and to raise awareness and responsibility of young and underprivileged students. We focus on education, protecting the environment, promoting sustainable tourism and exploring new possibilities to help the people of Sumba and surrounding islands,” according to their website.

The Hotel School, Permaculture Farm & Eco-Resort

The foundation runs Sumba Hotel School provding hospitality courses for local youths, teaching them the foundations of hospitality management with a focus on sustainable practices to build a healthy tourism economy on their native Island of Sumba.

“We have started the school on July 1st 2016. From 350 applications we selected 40 students from all regions of the island based on 3 criteria: 17-23 years old, underprivileged background and High school diploma. The selection process was difficult since the needs on the island are very high. We have been looking for the sparkle in the eye, the most motivated students,” Inge said.

“Together with the start of the school we have been working on the development of our permaculture farm. The land in Sumba is very dry and consists mainly of coral stone. We are teaching our students whose parents are farmers, new permaculture techniques to better cultivate the land. They bring this knowledge back to their communities and hence we can help fight the malnutrition on the island.”

In October 2016, Sumba opened its small eco-resort featuring 5 guest pavilions and a restaurant. Food for the restaurant comes from the permaculture farm.

“The funds received from the Charity committee are used for buying material/seeds for the farm, engineering material for maintenance of the buildings and learning support like books and uniforms for the students,” Inge explained.

From Glion to Sumba: Inge’s Journey

Inge graduated from Glion Institute of Higher Education with a Hotel Management Diploma in 1989.

“After a management training in Singapore with Meridien, I returned to Brussels and dedicated my time for the education of my 4 sons. I have always been very involved in school boards, general organization and I volunteered for many years in an organization to help the most underprivileged in Brussels. I continued to study languages, travelled extensively and completed an Interior Design degree from London Inchbald School of design.”

Being a philanthropist, Inge supported many international institutions throughout the years and followed the Philanthropy Workshop from the Rockefeller Foundation. Her interest in the field revealed some disappointments. Seeing negative impacts of tourism development in touristic paradises and misappropriated funds made her decide it was time to develop her own organization to make sure the money would reach the people in need and not only the administration.

“I chose Sumba because even now it’s still a very undeveloped island, some are calling it the next Bali. Fast development without planning, education of locals and supporting infrastructure can become a disaster. The timing is right now that tourists, and people in general are more aware that it is important to preserve nature and culture,” Inge explained.

How Glion and fellow alumni helped

Inge’s experience in the hotel management diploma at Glion Institute of Higher Education, as well as her connections through Glion’s Alumni Association have helped her to succeed in this project.

“Glion is a school of life: you learn a lot of different things in theoretical and practical classes, psychology, how to approach peers, customers, and different level of employees, you learn to overcome differences in culture and tolerance. I believe I also learned great organizational skills and discipline needed to make this project a success,” she said.

“I have received a great deal of emotional support from my alumni friends, their feedback and believe in the project has made me move on. Working together now with Glion will make it possible to preserve the quality of our curriculum, to reach more people and to spread the word of responsible sustainable tourism around the globe.”

Support Sustainable Tourism with Glion’s Charity Committee Events for Sumba

To learn more about Sumba Hospitality Foundation, and discover the picturesque island of Sumba, visit their website:

The Glion Charity Committee is always looking for volunteers and partners for their fundraising activities. You can find the latest news in the GCC’s Facebook group:

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