Participants on a tour of Mossman Gorge, Queensland

In alignment with strategic plans for tourism in Sri Lanka, the ‘Sustainable Tourism Development’ Australia Awards Short Course aims to further enhance the country’s tourism industry through key teachings of strategic tourism planning, management and coordination.

Participants at Mungali Creek Dairy in the Atherton Tablelands, Queensland

Griffith University’s Griffith Institute for Tourism, in coordination with Griffith’s International Business Development Unit and the University of the Sunshine Coast, facilitated the second delivery of ‘Sustainable Tourism Development (Sri Lanka)’; an Australia Awards Short Course funded by the Australian Government.

Completing the Short Course are 19 participants from Sri Lanka’s tourism industry who hold various positions in both government and private sectors, including the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.

In preparation for their time in Australia, participants completed a 3-day pre-course workshop in Colombo, designed to introduce concepts and examples of destination and business management in Australia and Asia. It was here that participants identified an area for improvement within their respective organisations to be used as the foundation of their ‘Return to Work’ plans.

Since arriving in Australia, participants engaged in a range of networking events and visited Australia Zoo, Noosa, the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Hou Wang Temple and the Mossman Gorge Centre. While in Far North Queensland participants learnt about reef-based tourism and seasonality management; all while developing their Return to Work plans.

Participants snorkeling on the Agincourt Reefs (outer Great Barrier Reef), Queensland

Participant Sujith Yamasinghe preparing to snorkel on the Agincourt Reefs (outer Great Barrier Reef), Queensland

Special presentations and workshops from experts including Associate Professor Dr Sarah Gardiner addressed key issues for tourism in Sri Lanka including marine-based tourism, cultural diplomacy, national branding, and climate change. Participants also had the opportunity to learn from guest speakers from the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Tourism and Events Queensland and the Sunshine Coast Council.

Deputy Director of Griffith University’s Griffith Institute for Tourism, Dr Sarah Gardiner said that the ‘Sustainable Tourism Development’ Short Course is helping build and better distribute the economic benefits of Sri Lanka’s tourism sector by providing key teachings to industry professionals.

The participants said they went back to their workplaces energised with new knowledge and experiences after undertaking a learning program they would never forget — they thanked the Griffith University and University of the Sunshine Coast teams for the knowledge sharing during the Short Course.

Participants at the farewell ceremony, Southport Yacht Club

The Short Course is delivered in three components comprised of a pre-course in Sri Lanka to introduce participants to course concepts; a 10-day program in Australia and a post-course in Sri Lanka. Following the Australian-based component of the Short Course, participants are working hard to develop their Return to Work plans to be presented to a selected audience from the industry during the final component of the program: a 3-day post-course in Sri Lanka. The plans will illustrate specifically how participants are going to apply the learnings and knowledge they have gained from the experience, to their organisations.

Professor Noel Scott speaking with participant Malinda Ekanayake during workshops in Tropical North Queensland

Participant Afzal Roomy, Director of The Traveller Global (Pvt) Ltd said that the Short Course was unforgettable and now it is their responsibility to support each other in uplifting tourism in Sri Lanka.

By drawing on lessons learnt during the Short Course to implement their Return to Work plans, participants are now empowered to develop and promote sustainable travel in Sri Lanka.