The key aim of this paper is to inject a degree of policy and economic realism into discussions about Aboriginal involvement in tourism. There is a growing policy impetus for an increased Aboriginal participation in tourism. From a macro-policy perspective, this is linked to a perception that 'Aboriginality' is one element that makes Australia a unique tourist destination and that an increased Aboriginal participation will result in greater potential for marketing the distinctiveness of the Australian experience. There is also growing pressure, especially during the current recession, to find employment niches under the Commonwealth Government's Aboriginal Employment Development Policy (AEDP).
This paper sets out to canvass a number of paradoxes, dilemmas and issues that are faced by both the tourism industry and Aboriginal people. It begins by making a brief assessment of and providing new data on the demand for, and supply of, Aboriginal cultures as a tourism attraction. Next, a range of impact and sustainability issues are outlined. This is followed by a discussion of policy considerations for the future.
To be effective, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Strategy will need to be policy realistic. An important element of such realism is that the varied options for Aboriginal industry participation should be carefully considered, rigorously evaluated and slowly nurtured; tourism will not provide an instant panacea for Aboriginal economic disadvantage. Significant industry participation might only occur in the medium- to longer-term, after product development, testing and marketing. Such a gradual approach might prove unpopular with policy-makers, but it is essential if sustainable Aboriginal involvement in tourism is to occur.
ISBN: 0 7315 1529 3