Our team at Travel Trade Maldives decided to sit down and gain some insight into the inspiring story of D.G Karunawansa (Karusan) who is not only the Managing Director of Karusan Travels Pvt. Ltd. but also the General Manager of one of the largest tour operators to the Maldives from Japan, INPAC Japan.
How did you get started?
I was privileged to start my career at Bandos Island Resort as a Japanese Coordinator in 1994. My knowledge in the Japanese language helped me find the opportunity in the Maldives where my entire life dramatically changed. Two years of hard work was paid off by getting a new challenge as the Resident Manager for INPAC Japan, which is one of the largest tour operators to the Maldives from Japan. I continued to do all assigned duties without any failure which resulted in being appointed as the General Manager in 2004. I still hold the position as the GM for INPAC whilst operating my own entity in the Maldives. I opened my own company in the Maldives with the blessings of INPAC Japan in 2004. When I look back on the history of 15 Years of success of my own company and working 25 years I would say the Maldives has always been my second home.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
At the beginning of the Maldives, the tourism industry ran with basic facilities compare to modern tourism. We had the local boats for internal transfers which took 2 to 3 hours to reach a resort. The communication system was based on walky-talkies. The fluctuations of global economy threats made big impacts. Tsunami devastation in 2004 was the biggest impact and it took nearly 06 months to overcome the situation.
What are some of your successes?
My attention always focused on customer care, high-quality service, trustworthiness and attending to every operation issue with immediate solutions. The clients always need quick reactions to make the stay comfortable and they do not have time for solutions with the dragged conversation. So I initiated with my own decision which was appreciated by both my agents and clients.
What is your advice for young adults who wish to pursue a career in this industry?
The tourism industry is a very sensitive area where people travel to a destination with hard-earned money. They expect more value than what they paid for. This is the world’s largest service industry and young adults who intend to enter the industry must be very cautious and patient. You should understand that you have to sacrifice your holidays and free time for someone else’s holiday. This cannot be fixed to restricted working hours. Be prepared for the 24X07 service. Knowledge of the industry is very vital. Must be a very fast learner and be able to understand the guest’s mentality quickly. Learning of one or two foreign languages always earn plus points to career growth. Guests should not be cheated. Quality should be high even though the quantity is low.