Recent budget announcements by the Western Australian Government and the New Zealand Government have seen significant commitments by both governments to the development of Indigenous tourism.
The Western Australian State Government has committed to an investment of $4.6 million over 4 years for Aboriginal tourism product development in Western Australia. With over 70 Aboriginal tourism experiences offered in Western Australia, the increased funding will assist with the development of the Aboriginal tourism sector which is acknowledged as a key focus of the Western Australian tourism strategy. The strategy aims to double the value of the State’s tourism industry to $12 billion by 2020.
Doc Reynolds, Chair of the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC) said “the additional funding secured by Tourism WA through the Royalty for Regions program will go a long way to assist emerging and market ready products to achieve the standards required for experiences to be integrated into events and activities, thereby ensuring that the Experience Extraordinary brand highlights the unique Aboriginal attributes of this State.”
WAITOC is the leading Indigenous tourism association in Australia which promotes authentic Aboriginal tourism experiences in Western Australia and provides an Aboriginal tourism voice to national tourism forums in Australia.
The New Zealand Government has committed to an investment of $6 million over the next 4 years for Maori tourism in recognition of the importance of Maori culture to promoting the country overseas.
New Zealand Maori Tourism CEO Pania Tyson-Nathan said “When we promote Maori tourism businesses overseas we use it as a platform to also promote New Zealand businesses, trade, and the education and investment opportunities in this country. For the tourism industry, the Maori tourism sector is a point of difference for visitors. Other places have beautiful mountains and lakes but nowhere else has the Maori people and culture, and our stories”.
The NZ government investment in Maori tourism is complemented by an additional investment of $8 million in a Maori Innovation Fund to be managed by the Minister of Science and Innovation and Maori Affairs which includes $1 million for a New Zealand Maori and Chinese stage production to help bridge cultural and economic relationships between New Zealand and China.
Johnny Edmonds, Secretariat Coordinator for WINTA said “the relationships between Indigenous tourism organisations and their respective state governments are of central importance as Indigenous peoples have much to offer which benefit not only their own peoples but all peoples”.
Indigenous-governed tourism associations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and USA are among the most developed Indigenous-led tourism organisations in the world and are shareholders in the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance.