I am Marie Claire DUSHIMUMUKIZA, a TDM graduate 2012-2013; I come from Rwanda, a land of thousand hills situated in Central-East Africa. After being admitted to NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, I started thinking on how I will face European life. At Breda, I experienced different lifestyles (biking), climate (snowing) and I gained not only Tourism Destination Management skills but also social and cultural experiences; the class of 13 different nationalities with different cultural backgrounds, NHTV was really an international school. Although phase one was challenging, I gained theoretical knowledge and professional skills while phase two of the field research in Asia was an unforgettable wonderful experience; there, I gained practical skills through the interaction with stakeholders and tourism professionals. During the second phase of the study program in Asia, I started elaborating the research proposal of my Master’s thesis. Two weeks later, after submitting the research proposal I received a “GO” situation. Since then, I started searching, reading previous work as well as tourism journals relevant to my topic. From Asia, I went back to Rwanda to conduct the final field research. The research was a great experience and challenging at the same time; as the previous conducted researches were organized in groups, then, during the final phase, I struggled in conducting it myself.

My Research topic was about “Exploring Opportunity for Developing Sustainable Community Based Tourism in Rwanda, case study: Nyungwe National Park”; the aim was to determine the extent to which CBTs enhance the livelihood of local communities around Nyungwe National Park by identifying the success and the constraint factors influencing Community Based Tourism development and ascertaining the potential opportunities of accelerating the expansion for Community Based Tourism activities in areas around Nyungwe National Park. A stakeholder’s meeting was organized by the park management to support my research in collecting useful information. The research involved the perspectives of community businesses, non-profit organizations, government authorities, tour operators, Nyungwe hotels as well as tourists; it applied various research methods including a combination of SWOT-AHP method which was challenging but rewarding.

A range of factors that influence Community Based Tourism in Nyungwe National Park were identified and compared to determine priority factors which need too much considerations with regards to Community Based Tourism (CBT) development in that area; lack of qualified human resources and limited funds were identified as the highest factors that need too much consideration because they can constrain the development and success of CBT in Nyungwe National Park. But success factors such as existing institutional set up, location, accessibility and security were also identified as factors which can be used to minimize these issues. The report highlighted that too much issues need to be addressed for the community businesses to remain sustainable and enjoy anticipated CBT benefits. The application of recommended actions might help to overcome the identified issues. During my oral defense I was nervous, but stayed confident of what I had to explain. After judging the potential of my research work, I was very excited and satisfied by the results of my thesis report and its oral defense. Frankly speaking, I worked hard to understand my research topic and the methods I used in order to hand in a professional academic piece of paper.

After completing my Master’s studies at NHTV Breda, I came back to my home country and started working. I am working in Rwanda Development Board / Tourism and Conservation department and serve as Sales and Reservation Officer; my responsibilities consist of marketing Rwanda as Tourism destination by providing quality customer service through the sales promotion and trade shows, making reservation of tourism products for tourists as well as providing and designing travel itineraries and prices for them during their stay in Rwanda. In a competitive modern marketplace, the implementation of gained skills will help me and my colleagues to effectively and efficiently improve the institutional services towards goals achievement. I am confident of applying and sharing the knowledge and skills acquired, while serving as a professional qualified worker committed to contribute to Rwanda’s competitive tourism development.

You can download the entire TDM Master Thesis by Marie Claire Dushimumukiza.