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Research to help NT tourism businesses survive disasters

Dr Michael Erdiaw-Kwasie
CDU Researcher and Lecturer in Business Sustainability Dr Michael Erdiaw-Kwasie is working with hospitality businesses to improve their resilience in pandemics and natural disasters.

Research underway at Charles Darwin University (CDU) aims to help the greater Darwin region’s hospitality and tourism businesses build resilience to pandemics, cyclones and climate change.

Tourism has been a major employer and contributor to the Territory economy with $2.2 billion in gross value added and 17,100 jobs.

But the NT’s tourism and hospitality sectors have suffered severe downturns due to COVID-19. Some operators have experienced revenue reductions of up to 90 per cent, according to NT Government data.

CDU is supporting the hospitality industry ensuring graduates are equipped and prepared to work in the industry by delivering hands-on training to support careers such as barista, bar attendant, waiter, restaurant manager and more.

Territory businesses are facing one of the worst labour shortages the industry has seen with travel restrictions and broader industry uncertainty amid lockdowns while border closures have slowed the supply of some hospitality staff.

There’s currently such a high demand for hospitality staff in the Northern Territory and Australia that international students are being allowed to work unlimited paid work hours. Before 2020, international students could work only 40 hours a fortnight.

The continued growth of Australia’s hospitality industry is great news for CDU students enrolled in culinary arts and hospitality courses.

Lecturer and researcher in Business Sustainability with CDU’s Asia Pacific College of Business and Law, Dr Michael Erdiaw-Kwasie, said the hospitality and tourism industry was highly vulnerable to disasters.

“I’ll be working with hospitality businesses to see how they can be more resilient in the face of pandemics or natural disasters like cyclones,” Dr Erdiaw-Kwasie said.

“There’s lots of academic research around how large corporations can survive in difficult times, but that’s not applicable to small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Significantly, 98 per cent of businesses in the Territory are SMEs.”

Dr Erdiaw-Kwasie and his team will meet with local owners and run workshops on how SMEs can be sustainable and endure when disaster strikes.

The research will also see the development of a self-assessment tool to help SMEs evaluate how resilient they are in the face of disasters and how they can develop coping strategies to pull them through difficult times.

The results of Dr Erdiaw-Kwasie’s research will be offered to Darwin City Council, Palmerston City Council and Litchfield Municipality for use in the city’s Economic Development Plan.

CDU has been working hard to keep up with the strong demand from the industry. The University offers a wide range of courses, from Certificate I in cooking and baking to diplomas of hospitality management, and travel and tourism and event management.

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