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Why Hospitality Schools Should Teach Biodiversity

Sylvana Navaro

When not traveling for work, we travel to explore destinations, seeking relaxation and inspiration to recharge our batteries. As tourists, we want an environment that is clean and untouched. Nobody wants to go on vacation and lie on the beach next to a pile of garbage. Whether diving in the ocean, climbing a mountain for a glorious view, or heading out on a safari, one of the major reasons we travel is to discover foreign ecosystems and their wildlife.

Tourism depends heavily on biodiversity, and ensure that our students are aware of this.

So, What is Biodiversity?

For a long time, biodiversity has been a discipline reserved for scientists and biologists, but it has become vital for people across industries to cultivate a certain understanding of the subject. It is the study of species and genes and takes particular interest in the importance of their diversity when it comes to a healthy ecosystem.

While we may think of ecosystems as attractions to be consumed and enjoyed on vacation, they are much more than that. Ecosystems are complex mechanisms that among other things, ensure clean air and water. They are the delicate balance of natural elements working with and for each other to maintain the natural resources that are the foundation of our economy. This is precisely what makes them underestimated and vulnerable. The overuse and exploitation of our natural resources threaten biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide.

Tourism Has a Direct Impact on Biodiversity

For the most part, resorts and hotels negatively impact the natural world. Intensive construction is devastating to local land as it leads to the erosion of soil, pollution increase, while contributing to the reduction of natural ecosystems. Some other destructive factors include CO2 emissions, the production of enormous quantities of waste, increased water and electricity, and deforestation.

But there is also good news. More and more hoteliers are beginning to understand that they have a key role to play in the protection of the environment and that ultimately, their success depends on its preservation. It is encouraging to see the many ways in which hospitality is changing to contribute to the protection of ecosystems. A great example of hotels taking concrete action is that of the eco-friendly hotels in Costa Rica that preserve and protect beaches for turtles to come nest every year as a part of their lifecycle.

While this example is location-specific, some actions could be normalized across the industry. The use of environmentally friendly building materials, utilizing vegetable roofs or walls for temperature control, considering local indigenous species when landscaping, or planting domestic gardens with local herbs and vegetables to use in restaurants—all contribute toward making a difference.

Leading by Example

When it comes to changing the behavior of society, education plays a key role. At César Ritz Colleges in Switzerland, Le Bouveret Campus, they challenge their students to change their mindset about the role they have as tourists but also as future hoteliers, entrepreneurs, and business owners. One doesn’t need to be a biology major to learn about biodiversity and how to protect it. Here are some examples of what César Ritz Colleges teaches both students and staff:

  • Environmental and biodiversity workshops for students
  • Installing “insect hotels”
  • Producing their own honey
  • Planting herbs and vegetables for use in their campus restaurants
  • Providing nesting aids for hedgehogs, insects, and different bird species

César Ritz Colleges’ Latest Addition

Eva Meyer, a biologist specialized in birdlife, has recently begun giving a workshop at César Ritz Colleges on different bird species. In a two-hour outdoor session, she explains what biodiversity is, why it’s important, how it comes into coexistence with tourism, why it’s threatened, and how it can be protected.

César Ritz Colleges might not have sea turtles on campus, but they do have many other species, local to the woodlands, lake, and surrounding Alps. After the bird biodiversity workshop, their students will never look at the sky in the same way.

Among the array of feathered creatures living in the forests surrounding the campus is the tawny owl, which has just been added to the list of species whose population has declined in recent years. They’ve installed nests for these birds in the neighboring forests, which they show to their students to help them see the small but meaningful ways they can positively impact the wildlife surrounding them. By next spring, they hope to see the first baby owls.

Through their commitment to protecting the biodiversity of the surrounding area, César Ritz Colleges instills in their students a sense of the responsibility each student has toward our planet. Their goal is that upon graduation, these future entrepreneurs will have a multitude of practical ways to live sustainably that they can implement in their careers. Every contribution counts.

Find out more about how César Ritz Colleges are implementing sustainable best practices on their campuses.

Read about their journey to becoming certified by Green Globe, the highest standard for sustainability worldwide.

César Ritz Colleges Switzerland, part of Swiss Education Group, is a leading business school with entrepreneurship and hospitality at its heart. Drawing from nearly 40 years of experience and the pioneering ethos of César Ritz, the school fosters a culture of entrepreneurship and sustainability that values independent, visionary thinking.