Professor Marina Novelli wins award for contribution to sustainability in African tourism sector
Professor Marina Novelli has won a Changemaker Impact Award for her work to support innovation and sustainability in the African tourism sector.
The University of Brighton professor received the Changemaker Impact Award at the Aviators Africa Conference and Tower (AACT) Awards in Johannesburg on 22 October, in recognition of her 20 years working in collaboration with stakeholders across the African continent.
Professor Novelli has played a key role in an impressively diverse range of projects: community-based tourism development in Namibia; post-conflict interventions in Burundi and post-Ebola in Sierra Leone; training trainers in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana; and supporting turtle conservation in The Gambia. Her work has been shown to have impact far beyond tourism in terms of economic growth, improved environments and more inclusive societies.
Most recently, Professor Novelli played a lead role in an inspiring initiative entitled Accelerating Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Sustainable Tourism in Africa, part of the British Council’s Innovation for African Universities (IAU) Programme.
Working with key partners from Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, this one-year project fostered youth entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan tourism, tapping into its significant potential to create greater local employment, biodiversity conservation and inclusive economic growth.
As a result, six tourism students from Ghana, Kenya and South Africa last month received seed funding to further develop a diverse set of innovative digital sustainable local tourism businesses, promoting everything from locally-led township tours to cultural heritage and food businesses.
Professor Marina Novelli, Professor of Tourism and International Development, said: “This award comes at a very important time of tourism recovery after two years of COVID-19 induced standstill. It means a lot to me that this recognition comes from the African travel and tourism sector, where I’ve spent much of my working life trying to do things differently.
“I’ve been privileged to be exposed to the challenges and opportunities associated with operating tourism in challenging business environments, and learn from the wisdom of many local experts to whom I am extremely thankful. I’m also grateful for the opportunity given to me over the years by the University of Brighton to travel and work in the continent, and I look forward to many more impactful collaborations.
“Finally, this award carries my name but is a recognition of the great partnerships with a long list of incredible people who indeed are co-winners of this award.”
Toni Ukachkwu, Publisher and CEO of Aviator Africa, and convener of the Aviators Africa Conference and Tower (AACT) said: “Professor Novelli’s work has contributed substantial advancements in the way travel, tourism and hospitality is devised and operated in the African continent.
“From conservation, to product development, and human resource capacity building her collaborative approach has made a considerable difference, with recognisable environmental, economic social impacts at destination level. This Change Maker Impact Award is a recognition of such achievements.”
Professor Novelli is also a member of the University of Brighton’s Centre for Change, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (CENTRIM) and founding member of the Tourism, Hospitality and Events Research Group. She has carried out significant research into tourism industry practices and policy challenges around topical sustainable tourism issues across Africa and Europe.
Follow Professor Marina Novelli on Twitter: @MarinaNovelli73