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World Indigenous Leaders Officially Join the Dialogue on Adventure Tourism

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The 2012 Adventure Travel World Summit was followed immediately by the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) Forum, a one-day panel brought to Lucerne in collaboration with the ATTA. WINTA was founded to create and support an international network of indigenous individuals and groups dedicated to tourism development. This first-ever forum brought thought leaders from indigenous and sustainable tourism communities together to address values, challenges and opportunities, as well as explore best practices in indigenous tourism communities worldwide.

Open to the public, the WINTA Forum was attended by Summit delegates and media attendees as well as locals and students. The following speakers commented on the success of the Forum and addressed the subject of the adventure tourism industry as a whole.

Ben Sherman, Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation and Leaders Council, World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (spoke on Creating a Universal Tourism Ethic Based on Indigenous Values) :

 My ancestor Luther Standing Bear wrote the following about Lakota beliefs: “Out of the (American) Indian approach to existence there came a great freedom—an intense and absorbing love for nature; a respect for life; enriching faith in a Supreme Power; and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood…”

These beliefs form a significant part of the foundation for my personal values supporting Indigenous tourism development. I can say with some certainty that other indigenous peoples around the globe embrace similar values.

 Through WINTA’s work with the Adventure Travel Trade Association, we hope that many others in the adventure travel industry can adopt and embrace similar enriching values. We believe these values are closely aligned with the growing consciousness of the traveler.

Caring travelers will understand the indigenous approach to holistic balance, reverence for Mother Earth as a living organism, empathy for the stress we create in nature and the need to restore rather than mitigate.

Keith Henry, CEO, Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia, Canada (spoke on Working with Diverse Indigenous Cultures):

The inaugural World Indigenous Tourism Forum organized by WINTA provided a first ever avenue for our Aboriginal tourism businesses in Canada to connect with key stakeholders from across the world.  In Canada we continue to witness a growing Aboriginal tourism demand and understanding how we can work together and share common challenges and future successes is critical to our global competitiveness.  WINTA now provides a tremendous opportunity for our Aboriginal/Indigenous tourism industry to address key industry issues such as authenticity is a collaborative effort.  WINTA also provides another great tool to marketing and promote Aboriginal/indigenous tourism on a world stage to several internal tourism organizations.  I believe it is about time.


Lennart Pittja – VisitSapmi, Sweden (spoke on Cultural Tourism – Authenticity On-Demand):

Lennart Pittja/

Mr. Taleb Rifai, UNWTO said that the reason why he wanted to come to the Summit is because adventure travel is the core in future tourism. As part of the adventure travel industry – many of you are key professionals in the global tourism development. You are already doing a good job offering so many experiences to the global traveler. But can you do more? Do you want to do more?

I would say that indigenous tourism is the core to adventure travel. Indigenous or not – developing indigenous tourism is a key question to us all. Indigenous peoples occupy 20% of the world’s land surface. And our ancestral lands contain 80% of the world’s biodiversity. 80%! That’s not a coincidence; we have used and protected the land since the beginning. We are going to continue to do that – with your help!

To share the indigenous values about the land and the waters is NOT a question only for indigenous peoples. Remembering what Alexandra Cousteau said at the Summit – ‘We protect what we love – we love what we know’.

 Neville Poelina, Chair, Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council, on Closing Thoughts From a Nature-Based Indigenous Tourism Operator

I thought I was paddling my own canoe through the fog of tourism trying to find this mainstream. Like minded people in Western Australia formed an organization called WAITOC. The West Australian Indigenous Tour Operators Council. We sat around the table and discussed matters that affected us all in our businesses as Indigenous tour operators.  With like-minded Indigenous people from other countries, we formed the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance on Larrakia country in the Northern Territory of Australia. In Lucerne I had 45 seconds to listen to a man tell me his story. He was an Indigenous man from Brunei.  After hearing his story I said to him, “Brother your story is the same as mine. I have nothing to tell you in my 45 seconds, our story is the same.  Just on different lands.”  I realized then that we in Australia, we are not paddling our canoe alone.  As the fog cleared, I saw other countries were in that same canoe. So it’s right to form WINTA. For the time has come.

WINTA can be and will be a direct way to Indigenous experiences all around the world. Indigenous tourism globally has grown as a formidable market. The responsible tourist is searching for a more authentic experience.  Wholesalers and inbound operators and other organizations will be able to use WINTA as a portal to connect to its Indigenous members globally.

Other featured speakers included:

The WINTA Forum’s official release can be read here, and the group will join the Adventure Travel World Summit again in 2013 in Namibia. Until then, please look to the website and the WINTA Facebook page for updates from this community.

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