Study Tour in South Korea: Regional Tourism Forum

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By Brittany Hardiman:

Eight Western Sydney University students recently connected with local tourism networks in South Korea, through the Business of Sustainable Tourism program, funded by the Australian Commonwealth’s New Colombo Plan Mobility Project.

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Tourism Management, undertaking the Destination Management Unit, along with two University staff, undertook a two-week transformative study tour in July.

Based in the Tongyeong Sejahtera Centre and the city of Busan, the students learnt about sustainable and cultural tourism and embraced the local cultures and cuisine. The students connected with students from Yonsei University and Gyeongsang National University during their stay, supported by the United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development network. They participated in cultural tours, lectures, hands-on activities including a joint session on Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and a Regional Tourism and Policy Planning workshop attended by forty local tourist operators, organisations and local government members.

Indeed, we truly enjoyed the visit and it created a unique chance for the young people of three universities to connect with each other under the common goal of sustainable development”, said Won J Byun, Sejahtera Forest Centre Chief Programmer.

Personally, I enjoyed the insightful comments students made regarding what may be improved in terms of sustainable tourism in Tongyeong, which was also shared via local newspaper”, she continued.

At the forum students were asked to comment on their experience in Tongyeong after a scheduled city familiarisation day whereby they visited the local food and fish markets, old Buddhist temples and the modern cable car. They addressed the positives and negatives of their experience as tourists and young professionals and presented their ideas to the attendees.

Kim Dong-Jin, Tongyeong Mayor said “Tongyeong is a city with many opportunities in areas such as work culture, history and the ocean. Today through the international exchange of 3 universities, I hope Tongyeong can move towards an edu-tourist city.”

“We attended the Tourism Sustainability Forum this afternoon where we listened to guest speakers (including our own Dr Ian Knowd) and collaborated with our groups in order to come up with ideas for improving tourism within Tongyeong. The atmosphere within the room was amazing; we wore headsets for interpretation as the speeches were spoken in Korean. To have the opportunity to sit in on a forum like this which is spoken in a foreign language is a privilege. It gave a real sense of the passion and efforts that are put into the program. The body language, facial expressions and tone really emphasised the importance of sustainable tourism within the Tongyeong area”, Western Sydney student, Jessica McNevin, reflected.

RCE Tongyeong will be holding another local tourism forum in September of this year to continue on the work around sustainable tourism.

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