January 3, 2018

Scientist from Australia: Lithuanian Tourism Has a Lot to Offer

The Department of Recreation and Tourism of Klaipėda University was visited by dr. Brenda Dyack from the University of Canberra in Australia. “We are glad to have a scientist with world-wide scientific experience who is ready to share it with our students and to exchange scientific insights with KU scientists at Klaipėda University. Brenda Dyack works not only in Australia, but also in Canada, and has extensive research experience in the area of tourism and recreation,” said prof. dr. Diana Šaparnienė, Head of the Department of Recreation and Tourism.
Lectures to the KU community
Over her two-week stay at KU, the visiting scientist from Australia gave a cycle of lectures to the undergraduate students of Recreation and Tourism, graduate students of Recreation and Tourism Management, and graduate students of the joint study programme of International Tourism Events Management, implemented in collaboration with Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences  in Latvia. Moreover, dr. Brenda Dyack gave a public lecture to the KU community and social partners.
“The visit of dr. Dyack does not mean the end of our cooperation. During her stay, we discussed the opportunities of her collaboration with the scientists of the Department of Recreation and Tourism in preparing a monograph Lithuania: Country as a Resort and having it published in a prestigious world-class publishing house,” stated Diana Šaparnienė. According to her, international cooperation is an integral part of the higher education system: “The world is interested in us, in our nature and the opportunities of recreation and tourism. One has to remember that just a few Lithuanian universities implement studies of recreation and tourism focused on preparation of high level professionals in the area of recreation and tourism, experts and leaders able to make a significant contribution both to the implementation of the recreation and tourism policy and to its formation and the development of the tourism business. Klaipėda University is the leader in the area.”  

Lithuanian roots of the Australian scientist 
“That is my third visit to Lithuania. I first came to an international conference in Vilnius. In 2015, I came again with my daughter, and we tried to find our roots. My father’s family comes from Poland, and mother’s, from Žemaitija, Lithuania. My grandparents lived between Salantai and Plungė. I feel good in Lithuania, like at home,” said dr Dyack. She joked that genetics might have predetermined her choice to explore lagoons. “I was surprised to see that the Curonian Lagoon is similar to the Coorong Lagoon I explore in Australia. During my lecture, I showed photos to the KU students, and no one was able to see any differences.”  
The Australian scientist conducted a scientific study of the Curonian Lagoon together with professor Ramūnas Povilanskas from the Department of Recreation and Tourism of Klaipėda University.  “I would call myself an economist of environmental studies or ecology. My job is to compare the market value of tourism and the additional value created by attractions. The amount of money spent by a tourist and the fun he gets do not necessarily depend on the hotel chosen upon arrival, e.g., at the Curonian National Park.” Moreover, as noted by dr. Dyack, she often looks for solutions that may help to control environmental pollution: “Each society group has its own interests: government, business, farmers, fishermen, and residents. However, what is important for the nature? Scientists seek to offer solutions and provide information.”  

Lithuania is an example for Australia 
According to Brenda Dyack, the Coorong Lagoon in Autralia is important not only for tourism and recreation, but also for land irrigation. “The river flows into the lagoon which plays an important role in the irrigation of the land. You do not have such problems in Lithuania, you get a lot of rain and a lot of water,” said the scientist. According to her, Australian farmers spend a lot of money on land irrigation in order to grow and harvest good crops. “Ecology and environment need water which is important for tourism. The number of tourists affects the living standards of local people, and all those things are interrelated: lagoons, water, agriculture, and tourism.” 
The Australian scientist noted that, despite the similarity of the Curonian and Coorong Lagoons, the tourism at the Curonian Lagoon is very different: “Australia does not boast such old traditions and history that you have in Lithuania. You attract tourists, as, e.g., Germans due to the common history. Moreover, famous artists of the world, such as Jean Paul Sartre and Thomas Mann, visited or spent their holidays in Neringa. That also attracts tourists. The Coorong Lagoon is still natural, and next to it there is a town larger than Nida and smaller than Klaipėda, however, “it fails to attract tourists as much as Neringa does.”
B. Dyack sees a huge potential of tourism in Lithuania. She finds it unique that in Europe, in Lithuania, one can still find natural spots untouched by urbanisation and industry. “In my opinion, there are numerous opportunities to develop tourism here while maintaining the natural environment. I see the Curonian Lagoon in Lithuania as a model of what can happen in the development of tourism at the Coorong Lagoon.”  
Dr Dyack enjoyed working with Klaipėda University students: “I am used to see bored or dozing students during lectures, and Lithuanians, on the contrary, looked interested and took an active part in them. I enjoyed giving lectures to them.” The Australian scientist liked Klaipėda University and its campus: “Even though the University is small, its academic staff are professionals in their fields, and it is good to cooperate with them,” said Dr. Brenda Dyack from the University of Canberra in Australia.
Source: Klaipeda University