Student testimonial

Student Amos Ochieng - MSc Leisure, Tourism and Environment

Choosing this topic was not a one day activity for Amos. It took him a few months of reading related literature, discussion with his classmates and also his supervisors. "Of course this was after I had identified and appreciated the research agenda of my supervisors. My thesis path was largely influenced by my background. Coming from a developing country and having seen the struggles that people go through to earn a living and having studied the potential of tourism to improve people’s livelihoods, I was influenced into an investigation of how communities can benefit from tourism activities. Therefore I have always had a passion for empowering local communities to benefit from tourism."

Discussing with my supervisor helped me much on structuring the write up of my thesis.

Thesis

"My thesis focused on linking tourism, conservation and livelihoods. I specifically analysed the implementation of sport hunting around Lake Mburo National park (LMNP) in Uganda, and assessed the contribution of this project to improving community attitudes towards wildlife as well as helping them to realise an improvement in their livelihood activities.

My thesis exposed me to a lot of societal challenges especially when it comes to use of communal/public resources for the benefit of the general community.  I for example learnt that starting a community project aimed at changing the livelihoods of the community does not always unite or win the support of every member. In fact, at times it turns out to be a point of disunity to the once united community. For example, before the project got started, all the members of the communities around LMNP believed that wildlife was actually a problem that affected all of them. But, now that the project is in place, the once united community are now getting disunited as they begin to associate themselves based on who owns what and this is beginning to result into inequality in benefit sharing. Non land owners are being disregarded by land owners on account that they do not suffer any wildlife damages and yet even the land owners are also disregarding fellow land owners based on account that there are those land owners who are benefiting more than other land owners largely due to the fact that they do not determine the frequency of hunting on particular pieces of land. This alone is turning out to be a great threat to the success of the project."

Barriers during the thesis

Basically, starting the write up of my thesis was not such a challenge. I made sure that most of the things that would turn out to be a challenge were all addressed during the proposal stage. Of course after my long fieldwork in Uganda, I returned to the Netherlands and had a discussion with my supervisor on how my fieldwork went and what kind of data I had collected. This helped me so much on structuring the write up of my thesis.

Advise for future students

Based on my experience, I would suggest that anyone wishing to embark on a thesis project should never fear to start abstract. A lot of time we may have nice thesis ideas but may get discouraged by the abstract nature of the ideas. Of course this can be made easier by choosing the right theoretical basis for the study. They should also seek early advice and discuss their thesis ideas with their would-be supervisors and even their classmates. This will lead them into choosing the appropriate theories to use during their study.

Well, for any prospective Leisure, Tourism and Environment student, they just need to have at the back of their minds that the course they are choosing is the right one in this century. The course deals with a lot of cross cutting and topical societal issues that affect contemporary society. Tourism and leisure studies are gradually becoming hot topics of debate and with great potentials to change the lifestyles of people either positively or negatively. Further, even for those of us who would love to go on holiday abroad have got to come to a realisation that their travelling has great potentials to affect our society in the future. This therefore makes tourism and leisure studies crucial for any country in the developed or developing world. The economies of all these countries will most likely largely depend on tourism. This is based on the latest UNWTO (2011) report that puts tourism as the first or second largest foreign earner for most of the least developed countries. However, this is not to overlook the exponential contributions that tourism makes to the economies of the developed world. In conclusion, prospective students should not be bogged down by the global spread of unemployment because the tourism industry alone has the potential to employ billions of the world’s population and they can also get involved in private businesses-still within the tourism industry.