The Overlap of Tourism and Entrepreneurship

When I saw this Spotlight on Achievement from Virginia Tech, and read "entrepreneurship" in the title, I was very interested.  Here’s an excerpt:

"’Many rural areas in the country and around the world are turning to tourism as a strategy for increasing community wealth. At the same time, community and business leaders are focusing their attention on entrepreneurship development as part of a sound economic plan.’ The overlap of these two areas, [Nancy] McGehee points out, is a critical field to study, expand, and support."

Nancy McGehee, Ph.D. I e-mailed Nancy McGehee and asked if she would be willing to share three ways tourism and entrepreneurism overlap.

Nancy McGehee kindly replied:

"1) Many tourism businesses start out small and with limited capital, a common feature of entrepreneurship. For example, small tour operators may start out with little more than deep social networks, an intense knowledge of a destination, and a passenger van."

"2) Many tourism businesses are creative and innovative, a common feature of entrepreneurship. For example, a farm family may start a unique fall festival on their property that caters to tourists."

"3) Tourism businesses are often started by persons who have a keen interest in creating a career that will allow them to live a certain type of lifestyle; these are also referred to as "lifestyle entrepreneurs." For example, someone may start a seasonal river guide business with the idea that they will travel in the winter during the off-season."

As a new member company of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks, I can relate to "small and with limited capital" but "creative and innovative."  And my cat certainly expects me to be her "lifestyle entrepreneur."

Vision-expanding ideas, Nancy.  Thank you very much!


For more information about Nancy McGehee’s areas of research interest, including tourism and entrepreneurship and rural tourism development, please contact her:

Nancy McGehee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Hospitality and Tourism Management
Pamplin College of Business
Virginia Tech
(540) 231-1201
[email protected]


  1. The potentials of tourism as an economic sector, not just as an enterprise, will be realized when there is leadership and then the diverse related and competing interests within Virginia Tech, Radford University, and community colleges merge and work together (not additively but cooperatively) for their own good and that of the Western Virginia region (e.g., outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing, biking, camping and hiking, hotel management, boating, historic sites and museum work, sporting events, the Roanoke zoo …). I've discussed possibilities in "Ranging" a chapter in "RuralSystem … Just Dreaming?" available at

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