Australia Championing Indigenous Tourism

Tourism Australia is championing a new cause for its vast portfolio of product: Indigenous tourism. And while the concept and even the practice is not new, the program is.

Tourism Australia’s Indigenous Tourism Champions Program is rolling out this month with an aggressive plan to place small, Indigenous tour operators at the forefront of international travel by giving them the tools for marketing, the training for strong and consistent service and the backing of know-how to move businesses forward for foreign in-bound tourists.

The program was announced during G’Day USA last week in Los Angeles, during a time, officials noted, Australia has been seeing spikes in visitation from the U.S. as a result of increased air services and attractive airfares. The Champions program is targeting this increased interest in Australia-focused travel with some intriguing new tourism options to satisfy an underserved demand for this product.

“We know that many international travelers want to experience Australian Indigenous culture first-hand but that it has been a challenge for our industry and consumers to find exactly which guided tour or experience they could add to their itinerary,” said Tourism Australian Chairman Rick Allert. “A significant focus of this ‘Indigenous Tourism Champions Program’ will be to work with these businesses to make sure they are properly represented and profiled in the global tourism sales distribution system. The emergence of an authentic, sustainable, top quality range of Indigenous travel experiences is absolutely key to Australia’s international tourism image.”

The program surrounds a vetted list of some 20 Aboriginal tourism companies so far, including such known names as Bookabee Tours (winner of the 2009 Opal Award at Corroboree and recently inducted into the South Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame), The Bama Way Aboriginal Journeys, Coorong Wilderness Lodge, Kakadu Culture Camp and Nitmiluk Tours.

It’s a multi-phase program that involves assistance with marketing and tradeshow events, government funds for training and development, marketing and website materials for agents, and representation through high profile wholesalers, such as Goway, Swain Tours, Down Under Answers and Virtuoso.

“We know Americans’ love affair with Australia hasn’t diminished even in the toughest of economic times,” said Allert. “And this is something that Australia tourism can really use to its advantage this year.”

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