Australia’s National Long Term Tourism Strategy, 2010, suggests that the value of natural, cultural and heritage assets is likely to become increasingly important as consumers actively seek sustainable and authentic tourism experiences. The economic value of these assets is significant. In 2008, 23 million people visited Australia’s cultural and heritage locations, comprising 70 per cent of all international visitors and 27 per cent of domestic visitors. Heritage and cultural tourism is a growth market, contributing 37 per cent of world travel and growing by 15 per cent per annum.Read more
Australia’s National Long Term Tourism Strategy
, suggests that the value of natural, cultural and heritage assets is likely to become increasingly important as consumers actively seek sustainable and authentic tourism experiences. The economic value of these assets is significant. In 2008, 23 million people visited Australia’s cultural and heritage locations, comprising 70 per cent of all international visitors and 27 per cent of domestic visitors. Heritage and cultural tourism is a growth market, contributing 37 per cent of world travel and growing by 15 per cent per annum.
The continuing development of Indigenous tourism is a key example of the benefits that can be derived from tourism in helping to achieve economic and social outcomes; however, Australia’s Indigenous tourism offering needs further development.
Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC) has produced a significant amount of research relating to ‘Indigenous’ or ‘Aboriginal’ Tourism in Australia. Different organisations have preferred using the term ‘Indigenous’ while others favour ‘Aboriginal’ for symbolic reasons or by habit. In the main, most commentators and researchers use both terms interchangeably, the term Aboriginal being widely accepted in Australia, while the term Indigenous is perceived as having greater impact internationally. The acronym IAT (Indigenous/Aboriginal Tourism) is used in the most recent STCRC research.
Some of the research could be considered to have been ‘agenda-building’, directly concerned with understanding the boundaries and core issues of this important aspect of tourism; producing surveys, scoping studies and research agendas. Other STCRC research has examined in greater detail specific aspects of Indigenous involvement in tourism, from a range of viewpoints.
A number of appraisals of the IAT field have taken place, surveying existing work and attempting to build a clear research agenda. While this scoping research filled an important void in the Australian context, by suggesting multiple potential directions for IAT research, it could not identify clear or universal priorities that would have satisfied all types of significant stakeholders that were consulted or involved (destination organisations, IAT industry members, Aboriginal communities and political representatives, researchers and other key players such as state park agencies, etc). Recent research undertaken by STCRC suggests these challenges continue.
Some findings of the research contained in this section include:
- Definitions of IAT differ considerably between Australian states and territories, and it can be assumed that this will change through time. These definitions reflect the priorities of various jurisdictions, and will affect and influence perceptions of research needs.
- The major considerations or components found in strategies are somewhat predictable—and a large proportion of the latter would apply to any business development attempting to integrate Indigenous/Aboriginal interests with a mainstream economic sector. Much of what is discussed is not specific to tourism.
- Most strategies endorse a general belief of high interest or growing demand in IAT, but this is rarely backed up by references (sources) or explicit/convincing evidence.
- Some of these strategies have benefited from research and strategic directions suggested by STCRC
- There is often a complex and invisible background relationship between the proposed directions for Aboriginal tourism and the course taken by Aboriginal economic development organisations operating in each state, the alignment between the two types of organisations being more or less clear for each jurisdiction.
- A preliminary north/west—south/east divide can be observed in terms of viewpoints and identified priorities for Indigenous/Aboriginal Tourism (IAT) development in Australia. It becomes apparent that Western Australia and the Northern Territory attach more importance to supporting and planning for economic development opportunities through IAT as well as recognising the importance of aligning IAT with the mainstream tourism industry. New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania on the other hand see their priority as adding to the destination product (and ensuring a smooth fit), recognising the value of economic opportunities for Aboriginal people or communities while Queensland’s approach is to address both issues simultaneously.
- Gaps in IAT research have been identified and re-identified, before and during the life of the STCRC, and constitute a fairly stable but broad-ranging issues list. In fact almost all aspects of tourism (from consumption, production, enterprise development, fit with destination marketing and impacts management or coordination) appear in efforts to identify research gaps.
It is useful to note that other countries (Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.A.) with similar IAT opportunities and potential for integrated research efforts have faced comparable difficulties (to different extents), so that no overseas model has paved the way for an Australian research program.
Sustainable Tourism Online assembles a range of Indigenous Aboriginal Tourism Research, mainily within the Australian context, however there is an obvious need to continue to consider the future needs for IAT research, not only in Australia, but globally.