A grand hotel with loyal customers and a renowned Michelin starred restaurant... Why not then be content to enjoy the success on the basis of “live happy, live hidden”? Because in many countries, the solidarity economy isn’t an option, it’s a vital necessity.
The first obvious example of that is employment. In some places, the hospitality industry is the largest employer, and the entrepreneurial responsibility to support entire families is then enormous. What’s more, the resulting jobs and impact on the local economy can draw special attention to the living conditions of employees’ families and surrounding communities.
The Elizabethfontein Primary School on the west coast of South Africa is a good example. Here, we are around a 170 miles from Cape Town in the Cederberg mountains, a giant nature reserve inhabited mostly by rocks. The existence of the school is precarious, and public funding covers only the bare essentials. But luckily, it receives logistic and financial support from the largest local employer: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve. If a hotel like this wants to blend seamlessly into the landscape, philanthropy is an essential philosophy for effective business management.
The same applies a hemisphere away in the Teruel province of Aragon in eastern Spain. Here, the hotel and estate of La Torre del Visco has achieved its target of recruiting 80% of its staff from among the 9,000 people living in the neighboring village of Matarranya.
Both these hotels see more benefits in a shared local economy than purely their own financial interest. The fact is that this policy also benefits their guests, because when staff have a real attachment to their home region, they are keen to promote its authenticity, history, traditions and gastronomy. All make a very valuable contribution to guest relations by ensuring that visitors do not remain totally disconnected from local realities during their stay.
But sometimes, these initiatives can be even more ambitious to the point of introducing healthcare programs, for example. Around 125 miles from Jaipur, the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan, the Ranthambore reserve and Sher Bagh camp are must-visit destinations for those who want to get close to tigers. The protection of these animals is therefore key to tourism, which is still the main driver of the regional economy. So Sher Bagh provides funding for veterinary campaigns to ensure the health of these noble hosts, as well as that of the animals farmed for food.
But at Sher Bagh, the shortcomings of the public health systems mean that human health is also a concern, so Sher Bagh organizes diagnostic and prevention campaigns to reduce medical risks among local people.
So the step from health to economy is a small one: it’s all about living together in harmony to develop your own business and improve the prosperity of an entire region.