Dr Marion Stuart-Hoyle, Section Director for Tourism, Hospitality and Events, has won a prestigious Association for Tourism in Higher Education (ATHE) award. 

The ATHE’s Awards for Innovation recognise innovation and excellence in teaching and research. Dr Stuart won in the Building Leadership in Tourism category for her submission Using ‘task and finish’ employer designed and mentored projects to refresh the parts of the student experience that no other projects can reach.

Dr Claire Haven Tang, Co-Chair of the ATHE, said: "The Association for Tourism in Higher Education was delighted to present Dr Marion Stuart-Hoyle with a ATHE Award for Innovation in the category of Building Leadership in Tourism (sponsored by the Tourism Society) for her submission on “Using ‘task and finish’ employer designed and mentored projects to refresh the parts of the student experience that no other projects can reach”. 

"The ATHE Awards for Innovation are designed to recognise and publicise innovation and excellence in teaching or research, in particular how tourism contributes to society. Marion’s submission was an excellent demonstration of Building Leadership in Tourism through the strong links between Canterbury Christ Church University and the local tourism industry which have forged mutually beneficial opportunities for employers and students through embedded work-based learning. These opportunities provide the students with real-life work experience which enables them to apply their academic and technical skills learned in the classroom and ultimately develop and fine-tune their leadership skills as tourism managers of the future."

In 2021, students worked on important projects to support businesses to relaunch after COVID restrictions were eased. They worked with Visit Kent to develop a staycation strategy to help kick start the region’s tourism, hospitality and events industry; The Cave Hotel, near Canterbury, to develop a COVID-19 safe event strategy, and Shepherd Neame to investigate customer attitudes and concerns about returning to public houses following the lifting of COVID restrictions.

Feedback from students undertaking these projects and the employers they have worked with has been overwhelmingly positive.

Joanna Richardson, Director of Marketing and Communications at Shepherd Neame, said: “We were really impressed with the energy and commitment of both groups to get under the skin of our business – from visiting the brewery and interviewing key people to conducting extensive research into the competitive landscape. This dedication clearly showed in the well-thought-out recommendations and opportunities that both groups identified. From a business perspective this project has enabled us to work with upcoming talent and bring insight from a group of people who represent a core consumer group for us.”

Jo Sadler a BSC (Hons) Hospitality Management student said: “The Work Based Learning module was a great opportunity to work on a project in collaboration with industry professionals. As students, we were able to explore our own perceptions of teamwork and professionalism while responding to a formal brief; throughout the project we logged our progress, including the highs and the lows, and completed a self-reflection section in our final assignment. This module was fantastic for not only working on ourselves, but preparing us for the industry following graduation.”

Marion received her award at the ATHE’s virtual conference in December.