Travel DAZE Exec: Cultural tourism is a key driver of travel, but are we listening to Indigenous communities?

Travel DAZE Exec: Cultural tourism is a key driver of travel, but are we listening to Indigenous communities?

Is the travel industry doing enough to protect indigenous culture? This was the question Travel Weekly editor Grant Jones posed to panelists at the opening panel of Travel DAZE Exec in Cairns yesterday.

Joining Jones on the panel was Rachael Hodges, general manager of Voyages Indigenous Tourism, Ben Hall, CEO at AAT Kings and John O’Sullivan, CEO of Experience Co.

Hodges was clear that it is not possible to put all indigenous tribes into the same category: “Firstly, I think we need to recognize that there’s over 500 Different Aboriginal groups, right? We’re all different. And we all speak different languages, we all have different cultural values and voice,” she said.

It is key that facilitators of cultural tourism ensure they are engaging with the right people, she added.

“The first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re talking to the right people for consultation, make sure that you’re reaching out to native title bodies if you need to, or local Aboriginal news organizations,” she said.

“It takes time,” Hall said regarding engaging with indigenous communities.

“I learned that the only way you’re going to actually build respect and achieve what you collectively want, is to actually spend time with people and understand and listen to what they’ve got to say,” he said.

You want to collectively get to the point where you have built products that benefit indigenous communities and that they are happy, he said.

Cultural tourism is now a huge driver of travel, O’Sullivan said.

“Earlier on, it was around food and wine. Now, it’s really moved into cultural tourism.”

“There’s markets out there that really want to get under the hood of the country they are in, they don’t want to just take a photo, they want to understand the cultural history and the dynamic of the country they’re in,” he said.



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