Inge De Lathauwer is the founder of The Sumba Hospitality Foundation, which has built a vocational hotel school with a unique eco resort and permaculture learning farm in Sumba, one of the poorest islands in Indonesia. Graduates get secure jobs and the broader community is invited to attend free English classes and learn permaculture techniques. More here.
One word that describes you?
What project are you most proud of when it comes to sustainability?
Creating the Sumba Hospitality Foundation: a hybrid model of a vocational hotel school in Sumba, Indonesia for underprivileged local youth that teaches hospitality, permaculture and sustainability, combined with an Eco resort which is also a model for responsible tourism development.
Which is your favourite part of your job?
Witnessing my students build their future as successful hospitality professionals and Green ambassadors for their island.
Which is the part that you enjoy the least?
Who is your greatest influence?
Sonu Shivdasani, founder of Soneva resorts, pioneer in sustainable tourism.
Best advice you’ve been given?
Follow your intuition, work hard and never give up.
What is your personal indulgence?
Champagne and chocolate.
The latest IPCC Report noted that our planet will reach 1.5C by 2030 (not 2050 as was originally suggested). How would you suggest we get people to ‘do more’ in 2019 to help this situation?
Eat better, opt for local, organic food; refuse any packaging; behave as a guest in a foreign destination and treat the local communities with respect. In general, I would say, everything comes down to education. We need to focus more to inform the younger generations. They are the future and will be able to influence and realize the change we need to make. Knowledge is power.
What are you, your family and/or your company doing to reduce and offset your carbon footprint and inspire others to do the same?
Our project is 100% off grid, we filter and reuse 90% of our waste water for irrigation of our organic farm, all buildings are made out of local bamboo, and we have a strict no plastic policy. We introduced regular trash walks with the community and local government to create awareness.
What is your personal favourite place to stay and/or travel company that’s trying hard when it comes to sustainability?
Maringi eco resort and spa in Sumba. All the income of the resort goes entirely back to supporting the local community. You can enjoy a luxury holiday while contributing to a better world.
What other steps do you take to make your daily life more committed to sustainability?
I rarely use my car and walk a lot. My fridge is almost empty, because I buy daily local organic produce. Overstocked fridges often result in food waste.
What do you think must happen now to help make our planet, people and profit more committed to sustainability?
It must be now that tourism should follow the 4C’s to develop responsible tourism by empowering the local Communities, preserving the Culture and balancing Conservation of the environment with Commerce, so travellers can enjoy discovering a healthy and productive planet for a very long time. We are proud to be a member of The Long Run, an organization of nature-based tourism businesses committed to driving sustainability. Good practices are shared with each other and inspire to take action.
If you could have one hour with a world leader, who would it be and what would you say?
President Jokowi of Indonesia, who is known for his commitment to support the local communities. Tourism development is one of the top priorities on his agenda. Indonesia has 15,000 islands, many still undeveloped but at a tipping point, and I would love to share some suggestions on how to develop these new destinations in a responsible way with a long term vision.
Any regrets so far?
No regrets, I love what I do. The positive energy and motivation from the young Sumbanese people who have very little but give so much fill me with immense joy and I feel fortunate to meet very inspiring, like-minded people on my journey.