May 30, 2024 •

7 min reading

Driving Regenerative Hospitality: GATE College's Impact

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In the world of hospitality, a quiet revolution is stirring—a shift towards regenerative hospitality.

It's not just about minimizing footprints anymore; it's about leaving a positive impact on the environment, communities, and cultures we touch. Regenerative hospitality isn't just a buzzword; it's a holistic approach that aims to restore ecosystems, empower local communities, and preserve cultural heritage. It invites us to rethink our role in the world of hospitality, to go beyond sustainability, and embrace practices that nurture both guests and the planet.

But what exactly does this entail?

Let's explore this transformative approach further by discovering the influence of one EHL Certified School at Global Academy of Tourism & Hospitality Education - GATE College in Nepal on sustainability and regenerative practices based on my interview with John Hummel.


Setting the stage: A Nepalese hospitality institution and a Dutch research director

GATE College has been an EHL Certified School since 2021 and stands as a premier institution in Nepal, renowned for its comprehensive education and training in hospitality management. Offering programs ranging from Bachelor's degrees to vocational courses, GATE College prioritizes academic excellence and practical skill development. Recognized for its innovative training programs in Nepal, the college is dedicated to integrating sustainability into its curriculum and operations. This article explores Dr. John Hummel's research initiatives and GATE College's commitment to driving sustainability and resilience in Nepal's hospitality industry, highlighting their pivotal role in shaping a sustainable future for the nation.

As the Director of Applied Research and Innovation, Dr. John Hummel plays a pivotal role at GATE College, where he leads research endeavors in regenerative hospitality in conscious destinations. With a wealth of experience spanning over 25 years in development, education, and research, including notably as sustainable tourism adviser and knowledge network leader for the SNV Netherlands Development Organization. He actively engages local communities and tourism enterprises to transform regenerative tourism destinations, alongside leading impactful greening projects in Nepal and Bhutan.


Journey to GATE: A path of purpose and collaboration

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, an opportunity emerged for John to develop an online course on regenerative agriculture and tourism development for micro- and small enterprises in Nepal, leading to his connection with GATE College. This initial collaboration between John and GATE College initiated discussions on transforming student-applied research and business innovation.

With a robust 15-year tenure at SNV Netherlands Development Organization, John joined GATE College in Nepal as the Director of Applied Research and Innovation leveraging his rich background in sustainable rural development and poverty alleviation across Nepal, Bhutan, and other Asian countries.

Inspired by the vision of CEO Khem Lakai, John’s work is contributing to the evolution of applied research and innovation at GATE College, fostering a culture of practical solutions and impactful change within the hospitality industry of Nepal. In this article, John shares his journey and passion for making a tangible impact on his students and local communities.


Sustainability as a guiding light: Shaping perspectives at GATE College

To me, sustainability serves as the cornerstone of regenerative tourism and hospitality - a paradigm that views these industries not just as economic ventures but as catalysts for nurturing the resilience and vitality of places, communities, and their visitors.

My journey began as a Forestry student, researching nature tourism and sustainable regional development. Over time, my focus expanded to embrace convivial conservation, nature-inclusive agriculture, and the essence of regenerative hospitality.

As terminology changed, shifting from community-based tourism to climate-smart agriculture, the main goal stayed the same: creating valuable experiences in natural settings while ensuring the well-being of both communities and ecosystems. These principles, which include concepts like inclusive business development and sustainable tourism for diminished areas, underline the connection between profit-driven activities and their wider impacts on businesses, communities, and environments.

At GATE College, I believe this perspective can deeply influence students, inspiring them to not only pursue successful careers in hospitality but to become stewards of regenerative practices, shaping a future where sustainability is not just a goal, but a way of life.

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Harvesting benefits: The promise of regenerative hospitality at GATE College

At the heart of GATE College's vision lies the aspiration to be a practical hub for regenerative hospitality learning and innovation— in South Asia, GATE College stands as a symbol of excellence. Here, students not only learn hospitality and green skills but also understand the complexities of hospitality in today's world, including challenges like climate change, regenerative agriculture, and community well-being. By participating in regenerative hospitality and tourism projects, the GATE College community can look forward to gaining tangible benefits.

Tangibly, students will develop practical skills and knowledge that prepare them for a rapidly evolving industry landscape, where factors like climate resilience, biodiversity conservation, and meaningful visitor experiences take precedence.

This immersion fosters a deep sense of connection and responsibility towards the communities and environments they serve, instilling values of care and sustainability that extend far beyond their academic journey. As GATE College adopts this mindset, it not only prepares its students for an evolving world but also encourages a culture of creativity, adaptability, and resilience.


Bridging borders: Collaborative projects in regenerative hospitality and tourism

At GATE College, a spirit of collaboration and innovation flourishes, highlighted by recent research initiatives that demonstrate best practices in regenerative hospitality and tourism. Take, for instance, the community-driven project in Kathmandu, where students engaged in research to assess cleanliness, hygiene, and safety standards in local restaurants. Their findings not only informed one of Katmandu’s urban health promotion centers but also served as a blueprint for enhancing health and hygiene practices within the hospitality sector.

Another noteworthy endeavor involved a partnership between GATE College and NHL Stenden Leeuwarden, in the Netherlands, in a co-creative research project focused on green destinations. Using a multi-stakeholder approach, students and partners embarked on a journey of discovery, collectively designing regenerative projects in the scenic nine lakes area of Pokhara. These projects, ranging from soft trekking initiatives to sustainable fish production and forest development around homestay communities, showcase the transformative power of collaboration and community engagement in shaping sustainable tourism practices.

As GATE College continues to lead such initiatives, there's a ripple effect that extends far beyond its borders. By fostering partnerships with other applied universities and institutions, GATE opens avenues for shared learning and innovation, inspiring a new generation of hospitality leaders to embrace regenerative principles and practices. These collaborative efforts not only amplify the impact of individual projects but also pave the way for a more interconnected and resilient approach to hospitality and tourism, one where communities, environments, and visitors thrive in harmony.

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Metrics for assessing sustainability

Within the halls of GATE College, the journey towards sustainability is an evolving one, marked by a commitment to measuring impact. While explicit strategies are still taking shape, the focus lies on evaluating success at both the individual enterprise and destination levels. At the enterprise level, metrics align with green certification initiatives, encompassing sustainability policies, energy and water usage, waste management systems, and local economic linkages.

However, the core of regenerative hospitality goes beyond these standard metrics, emphasizing community engagement, local sourcing, and ecosystem health. For example, initiatives such as sourcing organic products and fostering collaboration between businesses signal progress toward regenerative practices. Through detailed case studies, GATE College seeks to capture the diverse effects of sustainability initiatives, paving the way for a more holistic and regenerative approach to hospitality education and practice.


Seeds of sustainability: GATE College's green hospitality journey

At GATE College, sustainability is more than a concept—it's integrated into the very essence of its campuses, illustrating green hospitality. With locations in Kathmandu and Pokhara, GATE provides immersive learning experiences in sustainability and regenerative hospitality.

The GATE campuses are examples of sustainability, demonstrating how premises can become models of green living. Featuring eco-friendly buildings made with local materials and self-sustaining water and energy systems, GATE's dedication to sustainability is evident.

Additionally, incorporating organic products into campus kitchens promotes sustainable food practices and fosters a deeper connection to the land.

Venturing beyond its borders, GATE College enhances its influence by partnering with organizations like The Pavilions in Pokhara and Okharbot Organic Farm in Dhulikhel. These projects stand as models of regenerative hospitality, embodying sustainability principles from renewable energy usage to waste reduction and community engagement. By immersing students in such real-world scenarios, GATE College not only shapes a new generation of hospitality professionals but also triggers a ripple effect of sustainable initiatives across Nepal. Through hands-on experiences and practical contributions to the environment and local communities, GATE sets the stage for a brighter, greener future in the hospitality industry and beyond.


GATE College's vision for collaborative research in regenerative hospitality

Looking forward, GATE College is set to embark on an ambitious journey of collaborative research and learning, centered on the principles of regenerative hospitality in living landscapes. Focusing on partnership and stakeholder engagement, GATE aims to shape a robust research agenda that addresses the pressing challenges and opportunities in the hospitality sector.

Future initiatives will take the form of living lab projects, with the Pokhara and Dhulikhel-Namobuddha-Panauti regions designated as the initial exploration sites. These living labs will act as dynamic platforms for studying and documenting transformative processes towards regeneration. Key areas of focus will include the greening of existing businesses, their integration with the agricultural system, and their interactions with local communities. Additionally, examining the inter-linkages and joint initiatives between businesses in these areas will provide insights into collaborative approaches to sustainable development.

As GATE College advances these initiatives, it aims to enhance knowledge and innovation in regenerative hospitality while establishing meaningful connections with local communities and ecosystems. Through collaborative research and learning, GATE College seeks to be a catalyst for positive change, promoting transformational outcomes that benefit both people and the planet.

By joining forces with partner universities, industry stakeholders, local organizations, and research funding agencies, GATE College seeks to catalyze transformative projects that serve as living laboratories for innovation and regeneration.

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John Hummel
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John Hummel

Director of Applied Research and Innovation at GATE - Global Academy of Tourism and Hospitality Education & Director at Okharbot Organic Farm

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