Green box with blue text ‘Research spotlight’ over images of Dr Sifilo and Marina Novelli, Image of Job, Dominic,Michael and Pamela and marina and underneath Marina with colleagues Dr Sifolo (lower far left) and Dr Ro. On right, dark blue box with NUBS and 25 year logo. Text: International Women’s Day. Professor Marina Novelli (FASC) is recipient of a prestigious Leverhulme International Fellowship to deliver research on ‘Accelerating youth entrepreneurship in tourism for sustainable development in Kenya and South Africa. Green text: Research - Innovate – Impact

March 4, 2024, by aczht

Research spotlight: Accelerating youth entrepreneurship in tourism for sustainable development by Professor Marina Novelli (FASC) 

International Women’s Day – Friday 8 March 2024 

International Women’s Day 2024 focuses on celebrating achievements, raising awareness of discrimination, and taking action for gender parity. By inspiring others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we contribute to building a better world.  

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day throughout the week and highlighting the great work carried out by our academics, alumni, business partners and students at the Nottingham University Business School. 

Research spotlight: Accelerating youth entrepreneurship in tourism for sustainable development by Professor Marina Novelli (FASC) 

About Marina and her Leverhulme International Fellowship: 

Professor Marina Novelli (FASC) is a globally recognised authority in the field of tourism policy, planning and development. She joined Nottingham University Business School’s Marketing Department in October 2023 as a Professor of Marketing and Tourism.

As the recipient of the prestigious Leverhulme International Fellowship (IF), Marina is delivering a programme of research and knowledge exchange on Accelerating youth entrepreneurship in tourism for sustainable development throughout 2024 in collaboration with partners from Kenya and South Africa, where she has spent the past two and a half months. 

Marina’s visit was split into two parts. Firstly, she spent five weeks between Nairobi and the coastal area of Mombasa in Kenya, where she collaborated with her hosting institution Sustainable Travel and Tourism Africa (STTA, Kenya) and developed a new professional relationship with the Kenya College of Accountancy (KCA) University and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF). This was followed by four weeks in Pretoria and Nelspruit in South Africa, collaborating with colleagues from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Department of Tourism Management and the School of Business and Society.  

Marina said:  

The purpose of my visit was to explore creative ways to address youth unemployment and under-employment challenges, which are a major concern for African countries, such as Kenya and South Africa. Tourism has been strategically identified as one of the sectors with a high potential for creating high quality employment, driving economic growth, and supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the continent.  

However, evidence from my recently completed British Council – Innovation for African Universities (BC-IAU) project highlighted that current tourism jobs for young people are very insecure with low-skilled opportunities and, in addition, are poorly paid. It also found that the tourism sector in those countries has low levels of innovation and very few entrepreneurial opportunities for young people. Without meaningful participation of highly skilled young African people in tourism development, it will be difficult to address the challenges posed by youth unemployment, poverty, conflict and migration.  

Marina has shared her experience and the benefits of collaborating and knowledge exchange. 

Part one: Visit to Kenya, Sustainable Travel and Tourism Africa (STTA) 

 The Leverhulme International Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to be hosted by, and collaborate with, Judy Kepher-Gona and her team at Sustainable Travel and Tourism Africa (STTA, Kenya).  

Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda (STTA) is a sustainable tourism consulting firm with a decade of experience working in Africa and beyond. The organisation is dedicated to modelling a sustainable future for Africa’s tourism by supporting the sustainability of tourism destinations and businesses. STTA is dedicated to supporting enterprises that embody intrinsic sustainability, employ net-positive impact strategies, operate ethically, enhance the lives of host communities, and invest in the regeneration of the natural environment. 

In collaboration with the STTA team, we discovered new emerging critical understandings of the challenges and opportunities for youth entrepreneurship development situation on the ground. We started with a review of the Sustainable Travel and Tourism Africa (STTA) Young Change Maker (YCM).  

STTA founded the Young Change Makers (STTA-YCM) Initiative in 2017, during the year that marked the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. As a response to the rallying call for the industry to accelerate the uptake of sustainable tourism values, STTA pledged to mentor emerging African sustainable tourism leaders. The primary objective of the STTA-YCM Initiative is to cultivate young critical thinkers by equipping them with sustainability knowledge and skills and enabling them to provide innovative ideas and address current challenges faced by the tourism and conservation industries in Africa.  

Job Dominic Michael Pamella & Marina

Job Odihambo, Dominic Wanjiru, Michael Mugendi, Pamella Ondiek and Marina Novelli

Marina’s visit had apositive impact, and the Sustainable Travel and Tourism Africa (STTA team highlighted several benefits of working together.  

Job Odihambo (STTA-YCM Programme Coordinator) said: “Marina’s support in refining the YCM framework and approach will go a long way towards improving the programme. We are currently working on grants and opportunities for expanding the programme internationally.” Pamella Ondiek (STTA Secretariat) added: “Professor Novelli helped us identify the potential of the Young Change Makers (YCM) programme and STTA as an organisation through her deep insightful thoughts and reasoning power. We are implementing some of her ideas and views about the programme, which is already creating a shift with our partners.”  

STTA Climate Champion Dominic Wanjiru also shared his experience: “My interactions with Marina have widened my perspectives on internationalising the STTA Field Courses programme and amplified its impact globally in creating a community of conscious leaders in tourism. I also gained insights on ways to design and develop climate programs for resilience building of tourism businesses in Africa.” 


Marina reflected:  

 The visit to Kenya provided the opportunity to explore new collaborations with the Kenya College of Accountancy (KCA) University and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) in Nairobi. This latter connection was facilitated by Professor Judy Muthuri from Nottingham University Business School. Through a set of new engagements with stakeholders located both in Nairobi, and in the Mombasa coastal region, my five weeks in Kenya were nothing short of intellectually stimulating and inspiring. 

Part two: Visit to South Africa – Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Pretoria and Mbombela Campuses, South Africa. 

Dr Portia Sifolo and Marina Novelli

Dr Portia Sifolo and Marina

The second part of Marina’s visit involved collaboration with Tshwane University of Technology, the main campus in Pretoria and their satellite one in Mbombela in the outskirts of Kruger National Park.  

Marina commented: “Another dynamic exchange of ideas was stimulating. My visit involved the peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge and led to a co-created research agenda for the future.”  

TUT Senior Lecturer Dr Portia Sifolo said: “Professor Novelli led a refreshing and mutually beneficial seminar for the staff members in the Department of Tourism Management, which helped foster improved research skills, develop stronger collaborations, and increase research impact. By sharing her personal experiences and challenges, she enabled a valuable and inclusive exchange of ideas among researchers, especially early career researchers. Her presentation enhanced our sense of belonging and a supportive research environment.” 

Dr Pascal Tauoatsoala (TUT Head of the Department of Tourism Management) added: “As a university, we’re deeply grateful to begin this new chapter with Professor Novelli, the University of Nottingham and The Leverhulme Trust”.

The impact of research: 

Such research is important for us to better co-construct research and knowledge exchange programmes with communities across the globe that tackles complex issues and produce deeper impacts. Find out about the diverse research impact, values, centres and institutes and departments in the Nottingham University Business School:

Research at Nottingham University Business School 

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