In 1997, Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, introduced the new Bachelor of Cultural Tourism degree based in the School of Humanities. At the time it was the only tourism degree in Australia that did not emanate from a business school and it was grounded in what visitors were interested in: Australian history, Aboriginal studies, settlement history, cultural and historical heritage, and cultural diversity, and how it is celebrated through festivals, performances, and traditions. It was, by design, a degree with a strong Australian focus. The genesis of the internationally-respected Flinders Tourism department was a clear response to an industry need for university courses offering qualifications that would go beyond hospitality and satisfy an increasing global demand for cultural and nature-based travelling experiences. In the mid 1990s, formal tourism education in South Australia was limited and the industry’s peak bodies and local operators were concerned that students wanting to enter the burgeoning sectors of ‘eco-tourism’ and ‘cultural tourism’ would have to move interstate or overseas. Over the past decade and more, the programs and courses offered by Flinders Tourism have evolved – at each step in direct response to industry and student demand.

The degree has evolved over time and we now offer three specialist programs in the Bachelor of International Tourism – cultural tourism, nature based tourism and festival and event design and management. Our postgraduate studies go all the way to PhDs – and we run a leading Professional Development Program for those in or about to enter the industry.

In the interests of producing quality, job-ready graduates, we have always controlled our student numbers. Nevertheless, more than 1,000 students have studied with us over the years. In part we measure our success by the jobs our graduates walk into, and where their careers take them. Year after year, many are offered positions in advance, ready for them to walk into once they have completed their studies.  The industry targeted research projects and work integrated learning and placements the students undertake make this possible. Employers recognise our students’ skill set and expertise. Indeed, we have links with top educational institutions the world over, our staff have received the local industry’s top honours, and our graduates are working, literally, everywhere – heading organisations, working in powerful policy-making positions, running successful businesses and teaching locally, nationally and internationally.

Our courses have been developed by our skilled and experienced staff in partnership with the industry experts who work with us. Our staff have also been asked to design, assess and/or deliver curriculum for other educational institutions (including Le Cordon Bleu Australia, TAFE SA, Billy Blue NSW, Hong Kong Institute of Education and the University of Mauritius). We don’t rest on our laurels either. We’re currently offering a new stream of Nature-Based tourism and a new new double degree, the Bachelor of International Tourism/Bachelor of Languages.

“Your students were exceptional!”  Godfrey Gauci, National Events Manager, EOC Group