The need for a strong connection to country and collaboration was a key takeaway from the 8th Annual QTIC Tourism Indigenous Employment Forum.
Indigenous pride and passion were on display as 170 delegates from across the state came together at Home of the Arts, Surfers Paradise, on Wednesday 14 November.
From the sea country to the desert mob, the forum gave Indigenous tourism operators the chance to come together with business leaders, government representatives, tourism organisations, native title holders and community organisations to discuss important issues, opportunities and strategies to support Indigenous tourism growth and employment across the state.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind said delegates spoke of their connection to country, how it shaped their individual experiences, and what opportunities that opened for the future of Indigenous tourism in Queensland.
“We must embrace and nurture Indigenous culture and genuine experiences,” he said.
“It’s not only important for the culture’s survival, but also for the future of authentic Australian tourism experiences.
“We have such a vibrant and unique cultural asset to offer both domestic and international visitors, but it is our responsibility to make sure we work collaboratively to showcase it in the best possible way, and to protect it at the same time.”
Anonymous forum survey response: “When connections between general tourism and cultural values are made, inspiration happens.”
The significance of connecting the past, present and future of culture was not lost during the forum. The traditional owners – the Kombumerri Clan of Yugambeh Language Group – were acknowledged, The Henderson Gallery owner and principal artist Robert Henderson’s passion for protecting
Indigenous art rang through, and Reef Magic Cruises attendant Jeremy Noble was praised for being a young leader in Indigenous tourism.
QTIC Indigenous Program Manager Rhonda Appo said the forum made it clear that the future of First Nations tourism in Queensland was in safe hands.
“It’s great, and it fills me with pride, to see young people like Jeremy forging careers in the industry that they are truly passionate about and that highlight all the things culture holds dear,” she said.
Chairman of New Zealand Māori Tourism Chairman Dale Stephen’s keynote speech emphasised the strategy behind how they’ve leveraged Māori tourism as a way to generate legitimate connections with visitors.
“The challenge is connecting consumers with Indigenous tourism and cultural products in a meaningful and substantial way,” said Mrs Appo.
“The goal of Indigenous tourism is to collaborate with each other and international groups to create genuine connections between product offerings and consumers.
“Dale set the scene for this goal when he spoke about their efforts to create a tourism strategy that emphasised Māori products and services.”
Anonymous forum survey response: “The future of QLD Tourism can and will be a lot stronger if all stakeholders leverage off each other so that Indigenous Tourism is supported on every level.”
The 8th Annual QTIC Tourism Indigenous Forum was proudly supported by The Star Entertainment Group, the Queensland Government, Karlka Recruiting Group, Prestige Service Training, MatchWorks, Jimmy Crow and Griffith University.