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UEL tourism and hospitality students follow in the footsteps of Christopher Columbus

Global scholar students

A group of final-year tourism and hospitality students from the University of East London (UEL) followed in the footsteps of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus as part of a sustainable tourism field trip to the city of Huelva, south west Spain. 

The students were joined by lecturers Dr Raoul Bianchi, Dr Henrik Linden and Dr Menna Jones for the five-day trip, which was part of their module on sustainable tourism development and planning.

The group participated in a range of activities, including a guided tour of Huelva, looking at its history and current heritage attractions.

Dr Bianchi said, “We had a tour and discussion of the province’s coastal tourism infrastructure and golf course development hosted by academic Dr J. Andrés Domínguez from the University of Huelva.

“This was followed by a visit to two sites of historic significance associated with Christopher Columbus and his departure to the ‘New World’ in 1492, which have considerable potential for heritage tourism development.”

In 1491, Christopher Columbus stayed at the local Franciscan Monasterio de Santa María de la Rábida, before setting sail in 1492 via the river Tinto, just ten kilometres upstream form Huelva. 

Dr Bianchi added, “The final day took the group deep into the rural interior to take part in an eye-opening tour of the world famous Río Tinto mines and a British ‘colonial’ village built by the mining company in the late 19th century. 

“We were hosted by local guides and founders of the innovative destination enterprise, ‘Fieldwork RIOTINTO,’ who provide tours and hands-on activities in the local area,” said Dr Bianchi. 

“This last visit culminated in an interactive visit to the source of the Río Tinto itself with students walking through the rugged countryside to witness for themselves the beauty and potential for sustainable rural tourism in and around this unique landscape. 

“The field trip provided an unparalleled opportunity for students to witness first-hand the policy and management challenges associated with developing sustainable tourism which will be feed into their ‘sustainable tourism action plan’ assignments, as well as bringing to life many different aspects of resort development and planning, destination diversification, cultural heritage management and industrial heritage tourism.”