GIFT plays its part in tourism win

Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, Kate Jones MP, presented the award to Kerri Jekyll and GIFT researchers Joan Carlini, Sarah Gardiner and Noel Scott.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, Kate Jones MP, presented the award to Kerri Jekyll and GIFT researchers Joan Carlini, Sarah Gardiner and Noel Scott.

The far-reaching and powerful impact of research on industry has been highlighted by a Gold Coast business winning a prestigious tourism award.

Get Wet Surf School has taken out this year’s Queensland Tourism Industry Council prize for Innovation in Tourism, following a two-year partnership with researchers from the Griffith Institute for Tourism.

Dr Sarah Gardiner, Professor Noel Scott and Joan Carlini have worked with Kerri Jekyll and the Get Wet Surf School team to create innovative new experiences for the Chinese independent travel and international student market.

The success of the collaboration was recognised last week by QTIC when Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, Kate Jones MP, presented the award to Kerri Jekyll.

Get Wet Surf School also received a business support prize package to the value of $30,000 for the ‘Jump and Splash’ initiative which introduces Chinese travellers to the surf and beach.

“It’s a great example of academics and industry working together to achieve product innovation,” Dr Gardiner said.

Incisive understanding

“We worked with Get Wet Surf School to create and test a new beach activity for Asian international visitors to the Gold Coast.

“Our project aimed to introduce Asian visitors to the beach environment and introduce them to what Aussie love to do – jump and splash in the waves.”

There are now approximately 0.5 million international students studying in Australia, with the majority coming from China, India and south-east Asia.

Get Wet Surf worked with Griffith researchers to gain an incisive understanding of the needs of the Chinese international student market, and gauge their views of the surf lesson and beach experience.

“With the new Chinese market a little more fearful and less adventurous than previous backpacker markets, we needed to reconsider our business strategy,” Kerri Jekyll, managing director, Get Wet Surf School, said.

“We had to think innovatively about ways to modify our products to suit this new market. Our new product needed to distance itself from the thrill and adventure we normally focused on, with a new emphasis on customer safety and learning surf skills. This is how ‘Jump and Splash’ came to life.”

Get Wet Surf School, which has been operating since 2005, saw off 10 other finalists throughout Queensland to claim the QTIC prize for Innovation in Tourism.

“This is proof that great things happen when small businesses collaborate with larger organisations,” Kerri Jekyll said.

The Griffith team is planning further research projects in this experience sector, with this collaborative project developing a process of innovation that could be used by other businesses.