Government boost for WA Aboriginal tourism

Phoebe Pin & Geoff VivianMidwest Times
WAITOC chair Doc Reynolds.
Camera IconWAITOC chair Doc Reynolds. Credit: Geoff Vivian/The Geraldton Guardian, Geoff Vivian

Plans to make Western Australia the go-to State for Aboriginal tourism were revealed at a conference in Geraldton this week.

Speaking at the WA Regional Tourism Conference, Tourism Minister David Templeman officially launched the Tjina: Western Australian Aboriginal Tourism Action Plan on Monday.

Backed by a $20 million Aboriginal Tourism Fund — which was announced in February as a McGowan Government election commitment — the four-year plan will focus on making WA the premier Aboriginal tourism destination in Australia by boosting marketing activities, building the capacity for Aboriginal people to enter the industry, and promoting the development of new cultural experiences.

The Dampier Peninsula has been pegged as the recipient of several new tourism experiences, with the establishment of up to three new Camping with Custodian sites also on the cards.

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The plan outlines actions to make it easier for mainstream tourism operators to engage Aboriginal businesses or individuals to deliver cultural activities, such as the development of a database of Aboriginal tourism operators and a new booking service for cultural experiences.

Mr Templeman said the plan would improve access to the knowledge and history on offer from WA’s “passionate” Aboriginal tourism operators.

“Research shows incredible demand for Aboriginal experiences — the Tjina Plan will make sure people will get to have that experience they are looking for while they are travelling around WA,” he said. “This funding will support the development of authentic Aboriginal experiences ... and work towards making our State Australia’s top Aboriginal tourism destination.”

Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council chair Doc Reynolds said the plan recognised the importance of preserving and sharing Australia’s Aboriginal heritage.

“This (action plan) is a very significant little statement,” he said.

It talks about us as an ancient culture, the oldest living culture in the world today, and how we continue that ancient track to new journeys today.

“For us it’s been in a way a good opportunity to have that attention from the domestic market which we’ve never had before and to tap into that market a bit more deeply, which has been quite a tough challenge in the past for us,” she said.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson said Aboriginal operators played a key role in the growth of WA’s tourism industry.

“Aboriginal tourism is a fundamental part of a resilient tourism industry, creating jobs and economic prosperity across urban and regional communities,” he said.

“The term ‘Tjina’ is recognised across multiple Aboriginal languages, meaning ‘discoveries by foot’ — discovery of our future, our pathways and our potential.

“The Tjina plan will give our Government guidance as we grow economic, employment and social outcomes through Aboriginal tourism over the next four years.”

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