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Tourism and hospitality students travel to Spain to study sustainable tourism 

taking notes

Field trips enrich student learning with real-life insight 

Tourism and hospitality students at the University of East London (UEL) benefited from a four-day trip to Spain to learn about sustainable tourism.

Twenty final-year students studying on the ‘Sustainable Tourism Development and Planning’ module travelled to Huelva in western Andalucía during their final term. The area is famous for its eco-tourism and links to explorer Christopher Columbus.

The region also has historic ties to the mining industry – its Rio Tinto river runs red due to drainage from nearby mines. The river has loaned its name to the international Anglo-Australian mining company.

The UEL trip included a tour and discussion of the province’s ageing coastal tourism infrastructure at Punta Umbría, where British Rio Tinto executives built summer residences in the 19th century.

Students also got to see the historic mining sites up close (pictured), including the source of the Rio Tinto’s river, and heard talks by local guides.

They also visited the town of Aracena in the natural park of Picos de Aroche, a rural tourism capital of the province, and Coto Doñana national park, a world heritage site and Europe’s most important wetland reserve, home to over 300 species of birds and 37 species of mammals, including the elusive Iberian lynx.

The group was led by Dr Raoul Bianchi, Dr Henrik Linden and Ms Birte Schmitz from UEL’s Institute of Hospitality and Tourism.

In this year’s National Student Survey (NSS), tourism and travel students ranked UEL first in London for overall student satisfaction among modern (post-1992) universities.

Dr Bianchi said, “The field trip was an informative and event-filled journey through some of Huelva’s fascinating historic sites, rural environments and cultural landscapes. 

“It also brought to life many of the policy and management challenges faced by destination planners and tourism strategists when seeking to identify, mobilise and manage such ‘resources’ in a coherent, marketable and sustainable manner which will inform the destination strategies and action plans that students will now have to develop as part of their final assignment for this module.” 

UEL tourism and hospitality students are taught by leading experts in their fields. Dr Bianchi is a specialist in sustainable tourism. He recently gave presentations to delegates from Hainan Province, China, to help them develop an international tourism strategy. 

He also spoke at the ‘Green Culture’ international workshop in Montenegro in May. The event brought together academics, practitioners and policy-makers from around the world to discuss and debate innovative solutions to environmental sustainability.