Young leaders in QLD tourism tackle industry challenges

Striking a balance between sustainability and creating new, exciting experiences for travellers will be one of the key challenges facing the next generation tourism leaders, according to Shane O’Reilly, Griffith University alumnus and Managing Director of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

Shane O’Reilly

Mr O’Reilly will host a World Tourism Day lunch for young leaders in Queensland tourism, organised by Griffith University’s Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management.

The event will take place on September 27 at Riverlife Brisbane, and feature discussion about the local industry as well as the World Tourism Day theme: “Sustainable tourism: A tool for development”.

Mr O’Reilly said the worldwide trend of experiential tourism must balance the experience with safety and sustainability.

“The next generation of tourism leaders face a marketplace where the experience is potentially being watered down in the name of safety and sustainability, especially when compared to our close Asian and even NZ rivals,” said Mr O’Reilly, also the chairman of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.

“How can we be the most clean, safe and sustainable destination, yet still offer the excitement and experience travellers now crave?”

Jackie Babbage

Fellow Griffith University alumnus and Riverlife brand manager Jackie Babbage agreed that travellers are searching for unique and untouched experiences.

“People are now spending less shopping while they’re travelling and spending more on experiences,” said Ms Babbage.

“You can see obvious opportunities arising in response to this trend and more tech startups establishing themselves in the industry.”

Ms Babbage identified minimising the impacts of tourism on the environment as one of the key challenges facing the Queensland industry.

However, she believes there’s no better time for people to get involved.

“I’d like to see more youth in tourism,” she said. “In particular, more youth starting their own tourism businesses. We’re lucky enough to live in an amazing part of the world where it is low risk to start a small business.”

Griffith University’s Dr Sarah Gardiner said the World Tourism Day Young Leaders Lunch would spark a timely conversation.

“To have some of Queensland’s brightest young leaders in one room to discuss sustainable tourism is an exciting opportunity.

“It’s a chance to delve into local priorities and challenges, but also to take a look at the bigger picture and how we can fit into it.”