I still remember the first open day I attended at NHTV in 2009. I entered the main building and was immediately enchanted by the dynamic atmosphere that ruled the hallways. A building filled with international opportunities, people speaking different languages, the main topic being travel & tourism. I instantly felt like I belonged there. I kept thinking to myself on my journey back home that I needed to be part of it. I initiated my journey with NHTV later on the same year and during my bachelor program I knew that there had to be more. That is why I continued with the TDM program.

Marianne 4Growing up with parents from two poles apart countries (Brazil/Germany) I always felt the need of traveling and being abroad which is how I ended up at NHTV. Living in the Netherlands has become a very rewarding experience because I never felt far away from home because I met so many interesting people throughout the years, each and everyone with a different but yet exciting story. Being a person with a mixed background I always find delight in encountering people with similar stories. Breda became the place, or better yet, the engine of my dreams. I was enabled to deepen my knowledge in the area of tourism development and gain hands-on experience. I grew as a person, on a professional and personal level.

I must say that my journey with NHTV, during my master program, exceeded all kinds of expectations I could have had. Everything I thought I knew about tourism was nothing compared to what was taught to me during lectures, guest lectures, group work, individual assignments, the amazing fieldtrip, and thesis writing. I realized that studying can be so exciting and challenging, in a way that made me become more critical and passionate about everything the tourism industry has to offer.

The first phase of TDM that was spent in Breda was a mixture of studying the core concepts of destination management and understanding how to work in a professional group of tourism researchers. It was challenging to adapt one’s own key strengths to other team member’s strengths but in the end it was such a rewarding experience. I learned to appreciate the perks of working in a group of young professional sharing the same passion for tourism and working towards the same goal. I was lucky to be amidst such a gifted and international group of students.

The second phase of TDM was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Being able to apply the knowledge gained in the first phase, was when I learned how to act professional in the tourism environment I used to read about in DSC_4236research books. It felt like I was finally able to run the race I was exercising for in the first months back in Breda. At this point I feel like congratulating NHTV for assembling such an inspiring package of destinations, that could not be more diverse, thrilling and challenging from a research perspective, and professors that were sent with us on this mission to apply theoretical tourism knowledge into developing practice. Being able to not only read and study but also to observe and analyze the impacts and developments of tourism first hand was a very unique experience not to mention the settings we got to practice our theoretical knowledge in.

The last bit to reach the finish line was my dissertation. I chose to travel to Brazil, São Paulo, in order to analyze the key success factors of the city. Out of personal interest and from a tourism research professional I found delight in the interaction with local tourism experts who shared their visions for São Paulo with me and listened to what I had to say about it. The whole process of writing my thesis was a summary of the first and second phase because all the knowledge, theoretical and practical, that I gained working as a group member was now in my own hands. It felt good to get a final challenge where I got to proof to myself how far I would take it with the things I had learned so far. It was then that I understood that I want to keep following this track of working behind the scenes of a destination. Coordinating and further developing a destination’s tourism development.

When I started TDM I had many doubts about how professional I am but now I look at my future with the convincement of one day becoming a tourism destination manager because I have the essential armor with me and I am looking forward to having to apply it in practice on a daily basis.

I am happy that I entered the halls of NHTV on that open day in 2009. Back then I was not aware that the journey I embarked on would bring me close to a fuller understanding of this beautiful planet, its many people and different cultures & traditions. I would like to say that my journey with NHTV will never end because I will keep living with the core principles I learned throughout the years. Enabling me to travel with different eyes and encounter new people with an open minded heart and the willingness to adapt to different cultures. Most importantly that it does not matter how many times one might travel to the same destination it will always look different through the eyes of a tourism researcher because destinations are dynamic and therefore ever changing.

Marianne Koch

Marianne Koch

Written by: Marianne Koch