The first Aboriginal Tourism Strategy has been launched by NT Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Selena Uibo.
The announcement was made at Nitmiluk National Park, which was just named the Northern Territory’s best major tourist attraction at the Brolga Tourism Awards.
The 10-year-plan aims “to be the undeniable Australian leader in the Aboriginal tourism sector.”
Speaking to the Katherine Times, Jane Runyu-Fordimail, CEO of Nitmiluk Tours, said the plan will lay the ground for much needed economic development on country.
“This 10-year-plan will benefit Aboriginal people not only by employment and training but in sharing our unique culture,” she said.
“This benefits all Australians by showcasing a working model of reconciliation and partnership, where traditional owners and the NT government can demonstrate how to work respectfully with each other to build highly successful Aboriginal tourism ventures.
“This plan is a bible to us in the tourism industry and if we follow it we will have more successful Aboriginal tourism operators.”
Jawoyn Association chairperson Lisa Mumbin said the strategy provides a practical framework to build on.
“We have good history to learn from,” she told the Katherine Times.
“At the handback of Nitmiluk all we had was a piece of paper then too, but Jawoyn has lead the way since that point, and is leading the way in securing more support.”
Stuart Ord, Tourism NT’s Aboriginal Sector Manager, is tasked with bringing the plan into action, saying there “is no reason on earth why we can’t achieve this”.
“There is a gap between supply and demand – this is a 10-year-plan to fix that,” he told The Katherine Times.
“It is about building things and putting money into backing Aboriginal tourism… as well as skills development and job creation. You can’t have the product without the foundations.
“We have the foundations, we have the land, we have the people, there is no reason we can’t do this.”
The NT Government will roll out a range of dedicated activities including a grants program to support Aboriginal-owned tourism businesses with small infrastructure works, interpretation work and planning; mentoring and training; and improved measures and reporting tools to track the success of the strategy.
“We know that visitors from around the world want to experience and learn about the world’s oldest living culture, and seek authentic experiences with Aboriginal people to connect with this country through cultural activities,” Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss said in a statement.
“This Strategy will help guide our efforts to grow our unique cultural tourism offerings and support economic development and jobs in regional and remote communities across the Territory.
“It is the result of extensive consultation with Aboriginal people and organisations and will contribute to our broader strategy targets of 3900 new tourism jobs by 2030 and up to three million visitors a year.”