Sri Lankan Tourism & Sustainable Development by HELEN BULLE
Source: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
With the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Griffith University has been proud to support a range of capacity building projects with the Government of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders during the past decade. Through this, we have built strong people to people and organisational links to create opportunities and support the mutually beneficial relationship between our two countries.
The most recent project, delivered in 2018 and 2020 by Griffith University and University of the Sunshine Coast, has been an Australia Awards Short Course in Sustainable Tourism, an area of significant importance now and into the future in both Sri Lanka and Australia. This program has focussed on improving the economic benefits brought into Sri Lanka by the tourism sector while ensuring their long term viability. The participants have been emerging leaders in the field, representing both government and non-government organisations.
We were proud to showcase the Queensland tourism industry while sharing best practice, welcoming participants to locations such as Noosa, Australia Zoo, and Far North Queensland to learn about reef-based tourism and seasonal tourism. These visits facilitated the development of personal and industry links. Participants were impressed with Australia’s model of government and its support for the tourism sector. Bonds were formed between participants and facilitators, who were able to identify many areas for future potential collaboration to continue supporting this important industry.
This project has achieved very significant outcomes, with ongoing impact and benefit:
- The establishment of an internship program to support the sustainability of Micro Tourism Entrepreneurs, and help young Sri Lankan people to progress in their careers within the tourism industry.
- A musical manifestation of Sigiriya Story is in progress, with hopes to further increase female participation in the industry.
- Environmental changes have been set in motion, such as one participant successfully having a ban placed on the use of disposable straws in various Serendib Hotels.
- A Code of Conduct was developed for tour guides.
These outcomes were the result of participant Return to Work plans that were developed at the end of the short-course, and it has been incredibly rewarding to see the concrete outcomes of the program experience put into action to benefit participants’ communities and the industry.
These programs provide an invaluable opportunity to develop long term relationships, both among program participants in ways that strengthen the tourism community in Sri Lanka, and between professionals in Sri Lanka and Australia. They result in expected and unexpected exchanges of information and provide an opportunity to celebrate our similarities as well as what makes us unique. These programs have opened lines of communication between Sri Lanka and Australia that will continue to support the success of the tourism industry in both countries and help it to flourish as we begin to recover from the challenges that COVID-19 has created. 75 years in, Sri Lanka and Australia have a relationship we can be proud of, and one that continues to go from strength to strength.