President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was joined by Prince Amyn earlier today for the inauguration of the Westmont Hospitality Hall at NOVA University in Lisbon, Portugal.

The newly opened space will serve as a home for the Westmont Institute of Tourism and Hospitality at NOVA University’s School of Business and Economics (SBE), which is celebrating the third anniversary of the opening of its campus in Carcavelos. The school’s students and faculty are known as an open and collaborative community, focused on the positive impact of their work and research in the world.

The Westmont Institute is the latest development in the partnership between NOVA SBE and Westmont Hospitality Group, a joint initiative aiming to develop and promote education in hospitality, tourism, and service management. Westmont Hospitality Group, founded by the Mangalji family, is a global brand that owns and manages more than 400 hotels all over the world. Its mission includes a desire to use hospitality, travel, and tourism as a way of promoting a more sustainable world.

In his remarks at the event, Prince Amyn congratulated NOVA SBE and shared his hopes for the future of the project. “The Westmont Institute of Tourism and Hospitality will have the mission to inspire and prepare leaders in the tourism and hospitality industries,” he said, “providing not only excellence in service, but sound business knowledge to promote and support sustainable tourism ventures both in Portugal and, I hope, in Africa and developing countries.”

The entire hospitality industry has suffered multiple adverse effects due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the new Institute inaugurated today hopes to harness the potential of tourism to drive innovative responses to complex challenges such as this.

“I think that tourism, by opening up to travellers’ new lifestyles, new cultures, new traditions, acts as a strong educational experience and breeds understanding, and appreciation of shared values — of how much we share, and not how great are our differences, and that ultimately it promotes a pluralistic approach,” continued Prince Amyn, who has decades of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry globally.

Majid Mangalji, CEO of Westmont Group spoke of the inspiration to partner with NOVA as an institute and Portugal as a country. “Right from the start, we felt very comfortable that we could meet our objectives to create something special here at NOVA as we had many areas of alignment of interest,” he said.

“Portugal is a beautiful country, with wonderful people, nice weather, and very good food. And we believe it’s a country that can further expand the tourism and hospitality industry,” Mr Mangalji added. “We hope the establishment of the Westmont Institute will benefit this very important industry in a meaningful way.”

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has worked for many years to promote tourism as a key strategy for long-term, sustainable economic development. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), AKDN’s economic development agency, manages hotels, resorts, and lodges under the Serena brand in Africa and Asia. Serena’s properties provide economic stimulus through employment, training, and local sourcing, and support social activities that improve the quality of life and environmental sustainability of local communities.

Portugal’s NOVA University and AKDN have worked together since 2016, partnering on the support for research in important areas such as climate change, sustainable development, media and communications, digital health, and the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In July 2017, NOVA University bestowed an Honorary Doctorate upon Mawlana Hazar Imam for his longstanding commitment to improving the quality of life for some of the world’s vulnerable populations, as well as for his efforts to promote respect for tolerance and pluralism. This event at NOVA was the first official public event of Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee year.

A number of Ismaili students have attended NOVA University since its founding in 1973, going on to earn undergraduate and master’s degrees in various subjects including Business and Economics, Science and Technology, Health, Social Sciences and the Humanities, and Law.

Hannah Sabjaly, a student at NOVA SBE, looks forward to the addition of the new Westmont Institute. “I hope to make use of the Westmont Hospitality Hall and the Institute's facilities on campus to help me in my studies,” she said. “And I feel proud of this partnership with my university to support higher education in Portugal, while making a contribution to society here in this country and beyond.”