The Sumba Hospitality Foundation, Indonesia

by | 5 07 2023 | Slow travel, Travel

A vision of responsible tourism brought to life at a vocational hotel school for the underprivileged youth of Sumba

When founder Inge de Lathauwer first stepped foot on Sumba in 2013, she was overwhelmed by the natural beauty and authenticity of the island. Yet, saddened to see the living conditions of the local people. She had her own vision for a way to help the island: a vocational hotel school for the young, underprivileged youth of Sumba. The Sumba Hospitality Foundation.

 Sumba is an Indonesian island of exceptional and unspoiled beauty with one of the last remaining animist cultures. With Sumba’s natural beauty, pristine beaches, rich culture, and proximity to Bali, Sumba was and is poised for a surge in tourism development. The Sumba Hospitality Foundation offers incredible chances and education for Sumbanese local youth in sight of these developments.

Every year, 60 students with underprivileged backgrounds are given the chance to join the about one-year-long hospitality program. Their vision is to empower local Sumbanese youth to learn all facets of the hospitality sector and support the growth of sustainable tourism in Sumba. Still today, there is a lot of poverty, poor living conditions, and domestic violence in Sumba. Many of the students come from an underprivileged background, but as founder Inge tells us “We don’t want tragedy, we want hope. Poverty doesn’t define them. Their past and their problems don’t define them. It’s about the mindset.”

During the first weeks on campus, every student creates a life map for themselves together with the counselors. “They can talk to us about everything. But we want to go to the core of who they are, who they want to become. See the strong and fierce individuals with a dream.”, Inge continues. The dream that brought them here in the first place.

sumba hospitality foundation

The Sumba Hospitality Foundation is also home to Maringi Sumba, a boutique eco-resort and teaching hotel. Here, you get the chance to stay behind the scenes of the SHF’s campus. As a real-life study environment for the students, the guests are an important part of the student’s progression, since they enable them to practice, learn and grow. They have a total of nine beautiful bamboo pavilions and pool villas, a restaurant and bar, a common area, an organic garden, and a spa. All are tended to by the students.

 There are many ways to get involved. From volunteering programs to donations and sponsoring a student – all of these make a difference. Or decide to see for yourself, visit Sumba and stay at the teaching hotel Maringi Sumba and experience the campus and the work Sumba Hospitality Foundation does firsthand. All proceeds go directly to the Foundation and the education of the students.

Their much-needed vision of responsible tourism can protect this fragile island in a way the local communities can benefit from while preserving the environment and culture.

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