Snorkelling in Fiji all part of USC studies

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Snorkelling in Fiji all part of USC studies

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Published on 18 June 2012

18 June 2012

A group of University of the Sunshine Coast students will be snorkelling over reefs off Fiji this month as part of their assessment for a new business subject at USC.

The students – enrolled in the subject International Field Study – will complete three tourism-focused projects for the remote Nataleira Village on the east coast of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.

USC’s Lecturer in Tourism, Leisure and Events and Sports Marketing Dr Gayle Mayes said the students would develop tourist snorkelling trails in Dawasamu Bay and assess the health of Moon Reef using ReefCheck, an internationally recognised underwater research method.

Dr Mayes said they would also launch the area’s first Moon Reef Ocean Festival, with the aim of it becoming a major tourist event and economic driver for the region.

“This group of students will be the first in Australia to do ReefCheck transects using our newly developed snorkelling diver training program,” she said.

“The main tourism attractions for the village are snorkelling on the reefs and watching the large pod of wild spinner dolphins that shelter in the Moon Reef lagoon, so it’s important for the reef to be maintained.

“It’s also important for local groups to have long-term data, to assist in decision-making and management of any impacts that climate change and tourism may have on the reef.”

USC’s Bachelor of Tourism and Events student Kieran Andrews said he was grateful to be given an opportunity to explore a new culture while putting his university theory into practice.

“I am keen to apply sustainable tourism tools to business in Fiji,” he said.

Emma Barton, who is studying Marketing and Public Relations, said she was enjoying her role as project leader for the Moon Reef Ocean Festival, scheduled for 7 July.

“The festival will be a celebration of the reef, the culture, and their way of life,” she said. “We have had to consider things like the time difference and limited resources but we are very excited to put that side of the island on the map and get real world experience at the same time.”

USC’s International Field Study is an interdisciplinary subject developed to expose students to various cultures, views and skills, and enable them to advance their international career pathways.

Ten students received a $2,000 scholarship from the Australian Government to partly fund their three-week overseas trip, while two students gained sponsorships from Hall Contracting which has assisted USC students going to Fiji in the past.

— Michelle Widdicombe

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