Science - September 30, 2004

Travel agents award prize to land-use students

At first they were surprised that they had been nominated for a thesis prize in the travel world, but they are pleased as punch at winning. Manon Joosten and Ramona van Marwijk were awarded the Ed van Thijn thesis prize on Monday 27 September in Amsterdam for their graduation report on tourism in Malindi, Kenya.

Joosten and Van Marwijk have now both graduated in Land Use Sciences, but went last year to the Kenyan coast resort to do a study of small-scale entrepreneurs and sustainability in the tourist sector. One of their conclusions was that small-scale local entrepreneurs cannot avoid being taken over by international companies in the long term. The sector is also noticeably unsustainable, for instance in its lack of garbage clearance and total dependence on mass tourism. ‘When there were few tourists around no one had any money, and our computer was stolen,’ told Van Marwijk.

The jury was headed by the man after whom the prize is named, Ed van Thijn former chairman of the federation of Dutch travel companies. The jury report praised the good theoretical framework and the care with which the students had prepared their case study. The prize was awarded for the first time this year, and the aim is to broaden and deepen scientific debate on developments in the travel sector. ‘We are pleased above all that someone outside the university has read our thesis so carefully,’ commented the winners. They will share the 1,250 euros prize money: ‘Perhaps we’ll go to Kenya together.’ / YdH