Karen Picering, Gail Loader, Elise Sollitt, Elly Mackinder and Dr Gayle Mayes are all off to Fiji to help develop a tourism plan.
Karen Picering, Gail Loader, Elise Sollitt, Elly Mackinder and Dr Gayle Mayes are all off to Fiji to help develop a tourism plan. John McCutcheon

Students head to Fiji to offer tourism expertise

A GROUP of university students will have a holiday with a difference when they help a small Fijian village tap into a tourist goldmine.

This weekend six University of the Sunshine Coast business and events students will touch down on the island to start a sustainable tourism project.

As part of their course the students will compile reports and recommendations for Fijian businesses to help a largely unknown part of the island capitalise on its stunning natural environment.

Coast university tourism, leisure and events lecturer Gayle Mayes said a pristine marine park 7km off shore would be a focus for the students' trip.

More than 200 spinner dolphins frolic around the reef, she said.

And the students were eager to help the businesses develop a sustainable long-term plan to attract tourists.

"The students who went last year just loved this trip," Dr Mayes said.

"It is a fantastic intercultural and international experience and also it acts as 12 credit points towards their bachelor's degree.

"Students can contribute to a meaningful project and it is a win-win for everyone."

The trip to Fiji will also provide students with an opportunity to run the Ocean Festival to teach school children about the importance of the ocean and their environment.

In a rare opportunity, the Coast team will head out to the reef and assess the quality of the reef thanks to their underwater research diver qualifications achieved at university.

"Responsible tourism development is all about making sure the plans you put in place today enhance and assist the local region and drive employment and income for generations to come," Dr Mayes said.


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