With Australia having celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures during NAIDOC week, Tourism Australia has acknowledged the efforts of the country’s Indigenous Tourism Champions in providing enriching cultural experiences for international visitors.
The Indigenous Tourism Champions Program, which a joint initiative of Tourism Australia and Indigenous Business Australia in partnership with the State and Territory Tourism Organisations, looks to build the reputation of Indigenous tourism operators internationally through the marketing of ‘Champion’ product.
Currently, 14% of international visitors to Australia participate in an Aboriginal cultural experience during their visit, worth $5.6 billion annually.
Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan explains that the Indigenous Tourism Champions Program, now in its fourth year, had seen the number of ‘Champions’ in the program more than double to 51 this year.
O’Sullivan states “Australia has the oldest living culture of anywhere in the world and our Indigenous Tourism Champions are the critical connection to sharing the story of our cultural heritage with international visitors when they are here”.
“The quality and range of Indigenous tourism product available to international visitors is growing and this is very much to the credit of our ‘Champions’ who continue to generously share their culture through authentic and compelling tourism experiences”.
“Indigenous experiences are particularly sought after by some of Australia’s more mature tourism markets like the UK, Germany and USA and in the US alone last year 35 Indigenous tourism products were added to new or existing programs for seven key travel distributors, which is a fantastic result”.
“As part of our commitment to promoting what is unique and special about our country, Tourism Australia continues to step up its promotion of Indigenous experiences in our campaigns, programs and activities around the world.”
Through its international network, Tourism Australia promotes the highly appealing Indigenous tourism experiences that are part of the Indigenous Tourism Champions Program to the international travel trade and consumers.
The Indigenous Tourism Champions Program is a key pillar of Tourism Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Earlier this year Tourism Australia launched its 2014-16 RAP, with ‘stretch’ level targets to increase Indigenous employment within the organisation together with a number of other longer-term strategies to advance opportunities for Indigenous people.
Tourism Australia urged tourism operators to also consider developing their own Reconciliation Action Plans to assist their businesses in realising opportunities for reconciliation through practical plans to develop relationships, show respect and increase opportunities for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.