International Approaches to Indigenous Tourism
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tourism experiences are highly regarded by those who participate in them, yet Indigenous people and businesses are under-represented within the tourism industry. The Council of Australian Governments has Closing the Gap commitments to address Indigenous disadvantage, and tourism is recognized as a rare economic opportunity where Indigenous Australians have a unique advantage over non-Indigenous people. Indigenous tourism operators also recognise tourism as a path to economic independence by creating jobs for their children and communities in regional areas with relatively few alternatives, enabling communities to stay on country and perpetuate their culture and traditions.
In 2018, I undertook a Churchill Fellowship to understand the approaches of New Zealand, the Unites States and Canada to Indigenous tourism, and how those approaches resulted in higher levels of participation in Indigenous experiences by international visitors. I thought I would learn about innovative ways of marketing Indigenous experiences; however it seems their success is not due to marketing alone. Instead, it is the way in which the Indigenous tourism industry is structured, and how that system supports Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities, that is having the greatest impact.
My presentation highlights that Indigenous tourism requires a delicate balance of supply and demand. Until the supply side of Indigenous tourism is working well, it will be difficult for organisations such as Tourism Australia, state and territory tourism organisations, and regional tourism organisations to effectively create demand for the sector.
Kathryn entered tourism with a background research and subsequently combined her skills in researching emerging tourism trends with on-the-ground, grass-roots industry experience by working in hotels and resorts domestically and around the world. Kathryn has excelled in development focused roles working with tourism businesses, particularly small businesses. Her aptitude in assisting small businesses led Kathryn into the Indigenous tourism sector, where her impacts on businesses can have broader implications beyond single operators to benefit communities. She routinely demonstrates her desire and passion for Indigenous tourism and her experience, expertise and inquiring mind are valuable assets for the businesses she works with. Kathryn has a Bachelor of Psychology from Queensland University of Technology, and in 2017 was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate and design new, innovative approaches to grow and market Indigenous tourism experiences.