The Australia Awards ‘Sustainable Tourism Development’ Short Course draws to a close with an online workshop in June 2020 and participants say they are motivated to further enhance sustainable practices in the Sri Lanka tourism sector and to face the challenges that the COVID-19 crisis presents to the industry. Griffith University’s Griffith Institute for Tourism, in coordination with Griffith’s International Business Development Unit and the University of the Sunshine Coast, has facilitated the second delivery of this Australia Awards Short Course, funded by the Australian Government.

Sri Lankan participants of the Australia Awards ‘Sustainable Tourism Development’ Short Course on a tour of Mossman Gorge, Queensland

Participants of the Australia Awards Sustainable Tourism Development Short Course.

After the successful completion of the 10-day program in Australia in February, 19 participants are now in Sri Lanka preparing to present the Return to Work plans they developed during their time at Griffith University. The plans will illustrate how the participants are going to apply the learning and knowledge they have gained from their experience.

As part of the final workshop, the participants were provided with online learning materials titled “Tourism — Ready for Recovery”. The learning material covered key factors that will affect success in recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. These include identifying market niches to boost recovery efforts; and considering scenarios, so companies are ready for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The online learning materials are also available free of charge to all interested tourism practitioners.

Digital Badges will be awarded to those who complete the learning and assessment. A Digital Badge is part of Griffith University’s “Griffith Credentials” strategy to offer tangible recognition for completion of continuing professional development (CPD) programs. These badges can be uploaded to a range of platforms such as a digital resume, LinkedIn, Twitter and help promote the concept that the Sri Lankan tourism industry is ‘Ready for Recovery’.

Australia Awards Short Course participant Madura Thivanka Pathirana with Deputy Director of Griffith University’s Griffith Institute for Tourism, Dr Sarah Gardiner and University of the Sunshine Coast Professor Noel Scott at the Southport Yacht Club on the Gold Coast for the farewell event.

Madura Thivanka Pathirana, Dr Sarah Gardiner and University of the Sunshine Coast Professor Noel Scott.

Short Course participant Madura Thivanka Pathirana is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Strategic Management at the British School of Commerce in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Madura enjoyed his time at Griffith University so much that he hopes to return one day to study a PhD in his chosen field.

“I was so motivated by the industry experts who spoke to us,” Mr Pathirana said. “It developed my knowledge… and I now see the importance of gaining support from local councils and creating awareness about environmental sustainability through education, especially on a local level so that culture and heritage can be preserved.”

“Visiting various sites and institutions in Australia helped me to understand how they were able to implement their sustainable practices.” Mr Pathirana said.

Managing Director of Kitesurfing Lanka, Dilsiri Welikala, also a participant of the Short Course, said that the changing and challenging circumstances caused by COVID-19 have enabled him to truly understand the value of sustainable tourism.

“The Short Course helped me to understand how I can develop sustainable tourism practices at a macro level in Sri Lanka. Being a business owner, I am in a position to contribute to tourism development in my country,” Mr Welikala said. “My Return to Work plan focuses on reducing ocean plastics and how the tourism industry can be utilised to fulfil the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Backed with knowledge of strategic tourism planning, management and coordination, participants look forward to sharing ideas at the presentation of their final Return to Work plans in the coming days.

To learn more about Australia Awards Short Courses for South and West Asia, visit the Australia Awards — South and West Asia website.