What happens when postgraduate study meets global ambition?
In a world where far-flung destinations are easier to access than ever before, tourism is big business. Seeking a career filled with excitement and important challenges, Monash Arts grad Nikolaos Gkolfinopoulos decided to ride the global tourism wave while figuring out how to create a positive impact in the industry. After completing his Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management at Monash Arts, Nikos dove headfirst into game changing global tourism conversations as a Silk Road Project Specialist for the World Tourism Organisation.
Read on to discover how Nikos aligned his studies with his passions through a postgraduate degree, and how his experiences at Monash Arts prepared him for a fulfilling future.
How did your Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management (MISTM) inform and shape your career goals?
Tourism fascinated me while studying my bachelor's degree in Economic Sciences in Thessaloniki, Greece. The potential of the tourism sector to engage stakeholders, generating benefits both economically and sociocultural, is immense. The knowledge gained through my Master’s highlighted to me how I want to contribute as a professional, helping me to develop my critical thinking and analytical skills.
You've had a truly international study and career experience, with degrees from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Monash University, and work experience across Australia and Europe. How did Monash Arts support and nurture your global aspirations?
Monash Arts gave me the opportunity to complete the International Development unit, gaining valuable insights on how development organisations work. Studying with Monash Arts gave me real-world experience – namely the international field trip to the Fiji Islands, where we explored how Polynesian developing destinations manage tourism growth and the opportunities that come with it. Throughout my Master’s I was motivated and inspired by the well-structured and challenging courses, as well as the exposure to the Australian and international environments eventually guiding me toward an international career.
How have the skills and knowledge gained from your Masters helped you in your current role with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation?
I joined UNWTO in 2016. I am the Silk Road Project Specialist within the Technical Cooperation and Silk Road Department. Our work focuses on assisting 34 Silk Road Member States to develop sustainable tourism based on the theme of Silk Road, incorporating the intangible and tangible heritage we encounter in each destination of the historic routes. I love the challenge of raising awareness of Silk Road, assisting governments and regions with their destination management plans and developing transnational and interregional tourism development strategies.
At Monash I collaborated with people from different cultures, gaining valuable skills in learning how to understand and respect cultural differences, and troubleshooting solutions with inter-cultural related problems. I have found these experiences to useful in my current role where I operate in a multi-cultural environment on a daily basis.
The Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management provided me with contemporary project planning and research skills necessary for me to succeed in my career. This course armed me with well-rounded knowledge, vital experience, and the right analytical skills so I could graduate job-ready.
To achieve UNWTO's Silk Road Initiative vision, we work as a team to tackle ambitious objectives and deal with numerous complexities presented on a daily basis. It is undoubtedly fulfilling to witness the positive impact our work has on the Silk Road Member States’ economies, ensuring a better future for local communities.
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Connect with Nikolaos Gkolfinopoulos