A Robert Gordon University (RGU) student has beat off stiff competition from around the UK to win a top tourism prize.
Natalie Parsons has won the Tourism Management Institute (TMI) David Hughes Memorial Award.
This award is open to any student who is enrolled on a tourism degree within the UK and is based on their industry placement experience.
Natalie, an International Tourism Management student at RGU's Aberdeen Business School, had to submit a report to be assessed by the TMI Professional Development Group and she beat off stiff competition from students all over the UK to win.
She said: "It was my course leader Craig who encouraged me to go for the award. I felt really surprised but incredibly happy and proud that I had won because I didn't think it would happen.
"For me it was originally just something I entered thinking there was no chance I would win because it's a national competition. Just goes to show you should have a little faith in yourself."
Natalie has won the opportunity to network with destination management professionals, free associate membership of TMI and a place at one of two professional events – either the Hot Topic or Annual Convention.
She added: "This award will expose me to a network of knowledge that may lead to future opportunities and experiences. I think in today's world it really is about who you know, so we'll see what happens."
Natalie originally chose to study International Tourism Management at RGU as tourism is "holding its own as one of the world's fastest growing industries".
She said: "I've really enjoyed doing the course, it has benefitted me in so many ways but I think the most important thing is that it has helped me become a more confident person in that it's ok to speak up, have your own opinions and believe in your own mind.
"You are more capable than you think you are if you just give yourself a chance. I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many different people who you learn equally as much from.
"My primary reasons for choosing this course and RGU was the opportunity to study abroad and do a full year placement, both of which I ended up doing – a semester in The Netherlands in second year and a one year placement at Green Tourism in third year - and I'm so happy I did."
Natalie's lecturer Craig Leith, who is also programme leader for International Tourism Management and International Hospitality Management, said he was absolutely delighted all Natalie's hard work had paid off.
He said: "Throughout her four years at RGU, Natalie has consistently demonstrated her passion for the tourism industry and is fully deserving of this recognition. I have no doubt a lot more success awaits her in her future career.
"This award was also a great example of our relationships with industry.
"Green Tourism gave Natalie a fantastic opportunity for her year-long industry placement. I know they were highly impressed with the enthusiasm and knowledge which Natalie brought to the role, but my thanks also goes to them for allowing Natalie the chance to being a crucial part of their team during the year."
Stacey HorneCommunications Officer | Aberdeen Business School