The future of commercial tourism in Queensland now rests with young entrepreneurs who are best-placed to tap in to the needs of the booming youth market according to a tourism expert.

Dr Sarah Gardiner from the Griffith Institute for Tourism at Griffith University’s Business School, said new figures show a third of tourists to the Sunshine State are aged under 30 with the booming demographic now crucial to making commercial tourism thrive.

Dr Sarah Gardiner (left) with Chris Hogan from MeMedia and entrepreneurs Sarah Schoeller and Selasi Berdie

Dr Sarah Gardiner (left) with Chris Hogan from MeMedia and entrepreneurs Sarah Schoeller and Selasi Berdie

“Young people are looking for fresh and novel experiences that are relevant to their generation. Young entrepreneur share that mindset and are therefore best positioned to create experiences that appeal to young travelers.

“There’s a huge opportunity for young people to create businesses and market products to other young people out in the marketplace and that’s what we are trying to encourage people to think about,” Dr Gardiner said.

Case study videos as learning tools

With innovation and new ideas playing a vital role, Dr Gardiner and Gold Coast media tech startup MeMedia have teamed to produce videos and podcasts to spark the next generation of local tourism innovators.

Produced with funding from the Advance Queensland Young Starters Fund and support from the Business Schools of Griffith University and The University of Queensland, the multi-media project showcases the successes and pitfalls in becoming a young entrepreneur.

The videos follow the journey of five (local) entrepreneurs who have started their own businesses and achieved success.

Among the young business minds profiled were Selasai Berdie, the co-owner of BSKT Café at Mermaid Beach and Sarah Schoeller, co-founder of the Gold Coast’s Village Markets in Burleigh.

“The entrepreneurial spirit shone through as great ideas and innovation led to an array of top shelf products and services with a focus on tourism, event, sport and hospitality.

“Just hearing the stories too of other young people can help the next wave of entrepreneurs garner the confidence to develop an idea and see it to fruition,” Dr Gardiner said.

With Queensland selling itself as the smart and innovative state, the Griffith University Senior Lecturer said these funding grants play a crucial role in educating and encouraging the next generation of entrepreneur.

“Queensland is a fabulous place to have a business in tourism, hospitality or events.

“We have really strong peak bodies such as the Queensland Tourism Industry Council and proactive people within Tourism Events Queensland and within the regions. We must take advantage of our position and plan for the future.”