Indigenous Culture and Tourism

I have been to many places the world where I felt like the first Caucasian to step foot in certain territories. The very reason that I traveled there was to see “inside” a culture without the stage of tourism. Indigenous culture and tourism is wrought with all sorts of issues, and yet, there are opportunities for cultural awareness to travel throughout the world from the people who become aware of cultural differences. The  art, language, rituals and beliefs of a culture are what give meaning to a culture. To witness this directly through cultural travel, is a gift and a privilege. Indigenous culture has been romanticized, demonized, and put through a myriad of scopes. Recently, there has been a resurgence of cultural travelers who wish to experience Indigenous culture and explore the history, song, story and beliefs. A recent article in www.theage.com.au gives an example of the increase in cultural travel to Indigenous cultures of Austrailia and  Aboriginal tourism.

Mining royalties, government grants and the persistence of culturally minded tourism operators are bringing developments in what has always been a difficult arena.

Ayers Rock Resort now has a popular indigenous activities program, and the Wilpena Pound Resort in South Australia has come under indigenous ownership, with plans for Aboriginal touring and employment.

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In the Top End, the indigenous-owned Wildman Wilderness Lodge is in its second season, while the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land have won an $825,000 grant to develop a tourism master plan for the region.

In Queensland, an impressive $20 million indigenous eco-tourism development has opened at Mossman Gorge, north of Cairns, with local Aboriginal people making up the majority of employees and tours including exclusive access to indigenous land.

Another development is taking place on the Gold Coast, with Dreamworld being awarded a $1 million grant for an indigenous experience at the park.

The federal government grant will help turn the park’s existing “wildlife experience”, which includes more than 800 native animals, into an Australian Aboriginal wildlife experience.

A theme park might seem an unlikely player in cultural tourism, but Dreamworld says it has been working with indigenous clans for the past two years and has a “reconciliation action plan” to increase cultural awareness at all levels of its operations.

                                           This image of aboriginal art work is
                                           from wikipedia. Source-http://www.retas.de/thoma                           /australia2005/index.html
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