Students in Vietnam and Spain tackle mass tourism in Spain’s Ebro Delta Natural Park

Students in Vietnam and Spain tackle mass tourism in Spain’s Ebro Delta Natural Park

Students from RMIT Vietnam and the Barcelona School of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy at the University of Barcelona (CETT) have worked with local and regional authorities to tackle mass tourism in Spain’s biggest aquatic habitat.

With an area of 320 square kilometres, the Ebro Delta Natural Park in southern Catalonia is home to a wide variety of birds, fish and reptiles within a landscape made up of the sea, rivers, salt marshes, woodlands, coastal lagoons and islands. 

The area’s biological richness contrasts with its extensive human presence attracted by leisure activities such as shellfish farming, sports fishing and water sports.   

The park has seen an explosion in tourism as more and more people crave nature and outdoor experiences after the home confinements and lockdowns of COVID-19. 

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'Ebro Delta, Spain' The Ebro Delta Nature Park is known as one of the best bird watching areas in Europe.

Working online and in groups, the students in Vietnam and Spain responded to a brief from the Catalonia Government’s Secretariat for Climate Action and the Ebro Delta Natural Park. 

The students were asked to find solutions that balance conservation of the natural area with tourism activity.  

Their proposals included moving public parking away from the area and encouraging the use of electric mobility vehicles, such as buses or bicycles, as the only form of transport in the park.  

Another suggestion was the use of technology to determine the park’s capacity and crowd levels, with a traffic light system highlighting when spaces become too crowded.  

An eco-tourism fee for visitors was also proposed as well as the sale of sustainable merchandise to raise funds to help maintain the area.  

All proposals emphasised the need to engage stakeholders – including local businesses, tourism operators and vendors – through environmental education and awareness campaigns.  

The students presented their proposals to Beatriz Ramírez from the Catalonia Government’s Secretariat for Climate Action and Xavier Abril from the Ebro Delta Natural Park. 

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title 'Ebro Delta, Spain' The Ebro Delta also serves as the rice growing capital of Catalonia.

Ramírez, from the Government of Catalonia, said it was a pleasure to collaborate with the students and teaching staff at RMIT Vietnam and CETT. 

"It’s essential to seek synergies between all stakeholders involved in the conservation of the environmental values of our territory," she said. 

"The student’s proposals were innovative, rigorous and with environmental awareness – we congratulate them for their great work!" 

Abril, from the Ebro Delta Natural Park, said it was a pleasure and honour for the park to be the focus of the student projects.  

"Being a living lab and discovering new views and visions of the region from other perspectives has been a priviledge," he said.  

"I would like to congratulate the students and teachers from RMIT Vietnam and CETT for their efforts and dedication, and above all, for thinking about the future of the delta." 

RMIT Vietnam students Do Minh Nguyet and Hoang Thi Kim Ngan said the opportunity enabled a practical application of their studies.  

"Having the chance to work with students in Spain on this project meant using what we’ve learnt in the classroom to tackle a real issue – it was an unforgettable experience," Nguyet said.  

Ngan said the collaboration also resulted in a new appreciation and understanding of Spain’s largest aquatic habitat. 

"It was the first time I had ever heard of this park," she said.  

"Working with my teammates in Spain, I learnt more about the area and its importance." 

CETT student Oleg Iuzhalin said the collaborative project was a unique opportunity to get acquainted not only with foreign colleagues, but also to exchange experience and vision in solving various problems. 

"I definitely liked these collaborative meetings and I hope that next year there will be more opportunities like this one," Iuzhalin said.  

The group of 60+ tourism and hospitality students were brought together by RMIT Vietnam’s Jackie Ong and Daisy Kanagasapapathy along with Elena Ridolfi at CETT in Spain. 

The collaboration was supported by RMIT Europe

"It was a transformative learning experience for the students – one enabling synergy between RMIT Vietnam and CETT in Barcelona," Kanagasapapathy said.  

"Students worked together online to achieve a goal while at the same time learning cross-cultural skills." 

Ridolfi said it was an excellent opportunity to share and transfer knowledge between universities and local entities. 

"The students generated new ideas and solutions for the management of tourism in this important area in Spain," she said.  


Story: Karen Matthews and Ha Hoang 


  • RMIT Vietnam
  • RMIT Europe
  • Student experience
  • Environment

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.