On Thursday March 29, experts from the tourism sector in Sri Lanka attended a networking event together with representatives from Wildlife Tourism Australia, Griffith University, Scope Global, and other key partners involved in the Australia Awards Sustainable Tourism Development in Sri Lanka Short Course.
The networking event and farewell dinner followed a 10-day study tour in Australia for 25 middle and senior management personnel from the industry, government and training institutes and universities from Sri Lanka.
With a core focus on improving the participants’ coordination in the planning and management of the tourism sector and developing capacity in tourism destination management, this course was designed to help benefit Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
The Australia Awards Short Course for South and West Asia was funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Australia Awards are prestigious international Scholarships, Fellowships and Short Courses that offer the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake short-term study, research and professional development opportunities in support of key development and foreign affairs priorities.
The Short Course award recipients received their graduation certificates before networking with key Australian tourism experts at the Southport Yacht Club.
One of the course recipients, Ms Devika Saelen – the Head of Operational Excellence at Serendib Leisure Management Ltd – says the Sustainable Tourism Development Program is a step in the right direction for the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.
“I would say it is certainly a very positive and significant step in fostering collaboration and synergies between the industry and government bridging the prevailing disconnect, bringing us together hopefully as one voice, as the voice of tourism,” she said.
“It has been an incredible experience with a wealth of learning and exposure for all of us and I feel quite privileged to be a part of it.”
The first component of this Short Course was a pre-reading and program orientation conducted via webinars in Sri Lanka in February.
The final component following the Australian study tour was a post-course program in Sri Lanka, which gave recipients the opportunity to focus on the implementation of their Return To Work plans in Sri Lanka.
The Australian study tour helped the group develop their Return To Work plans through educational visits to leading tourist destinations in Queensland including the Sunshine Coast and Far North Queensland, before finishing with a trip to the Gold Coast.
From site visits to the Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve and the Daintree Discovery Centre to Tourism Planning Symposiums with the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, the group engaged in a hands-on, educational experience designed to develop key competencies and develop strong links between the two countries.
The representatives from Sri Lanka had a non-stop schedule, visiting a variety of key sites such as the Mungali Creek Dairy & Cheese Factory, The Temple of Hou Wang and the Mossman Gorge Rainforest Centre, where they furthered their understandings of cultural heritage tourism and more.
While in Far North Queensland, they also visited the outer Great Barrier Reef, exploring one of Australia’s most iconic tourist locations while learning about reef management practices in Australia.
The final week of the program concluded with a tourism symposium held at Griffith University at the Gold Coast, where various key industry representatives attended as panel members, providing experience-driven knowledge to the participants.
Mr Noel Scott, the Head of the Griffith Institute for Tourism, was the panel chairman, sitting alongside representatives from the Gold Coast Tourism Corporation and Economic Development and Major Projects as well as the City of Gold Coast.
Presentations by representatives from key tourism organisations including Tourism Research Australia, Get Wet Surf School and National Park Products also took place, giving the group further insights into the tourism industry in Australia.
Aligning with Sri Lanka’s 2017-2020 Tourism Strategic Plan, this program hopes to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2025.
Mrs Deelia Rochelle Pietersz, the Head of Operations at Ceilao Adventures (Pvt) Ltd, was one of the representatives from Sri Lanka’s private sector who took part in the program.
Mrs Pietersz said the study tour was “a marvellous knowledge-sharing experience”, which she looks forward to implementing in her work back in Sri Lanka.
“There was so much we learnt about tourism in Australia, especially in Queensland,” she said.
We look forward to going back to Colombo to see how we can change the tourism industry of Sri Lanka, not only for my company’s benefit but, of course, for the Sri Lankan economy.”
The group from Sri Lanka flew back to their home country on March 31, taking back valuable insights about Australia’s tourism industry to create lasting, beneficial impacts as well as strong industry networks.
The Australia Awards Sustainable Tourism Development in Sri Lanka Short Course will help key representatives from Sri Lanka’s tourism sector gain essential teachings around tourism management to help spread economic benefits and further employment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
Australia Awards Short Course opportunities are designed to build valuable people-to-people links both within Australia and within the Indo-Pacific region, enabling mid-career professionals and emerging leaders to tap into Australian expertise, gaining valuable skills and knowledge.