Demand for Indigenous tourism experiences in Queensland is at a five-year high with a rise in domestic and international visitors seeking cultural experiences as part of their holiday.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind said the growth was reflective of a global trend of travellers seeking products unique to a destination.
“The number of domestic tourists experiencing Indigenous arts, crafts, cultural displays or an Aboriginal site or community has grown by 41 per cent from 2013-14 to 2017-18,” he said.
“For the same five-year period we also saw a 26 per cent increase from international tourists.”
QTIC’s Indigenous Champions Network works hard to ensure the development of Queensland’s Indigenous tourism products and increase participation of Indigenous employees within the tourism and hospitality industry.
Their most prominent initiative is the QTIC Tourism Indigenous Employment Forum, which this year will be held on the Gold Coast for the first time in its eight-year history.
QTIC Indigenous Program Manager Rhonda Appo said the Gold Coast had been a leading Queensland tourism for decades, making it the perfect location for a forum.
“This is an important event for driving Indigenous development, growth and involvement, particularly for Queensland tourism,” she said.
“The forum brings together business leaders, employers, government representatives, tourism organisations, native title holders and community organisations to discuss important issues, opportunities and strategies for supporting Indigenous tourism growth and Indigenous employment across the state.
“It is the perfect opportunity to discuss the latest Indigenous innovations aimed at growing the Queensland tourism industry.
“It also offers First Nations people a chance to engage in shaping the future of Queensland’s tourism.”
Mr Gschwind said the forum would assemble an inspiring group of highly experienced Indigenous professionals to discuss critical issues and opportunities for tourism partnerships.
“This is an exciting opportunity to tap into the capacity of Indigenous Queenslanders to become a more engaged part of the rapidly growing tourism industry,” he said.
“It’s long overdue that we give more prominence to the competitive advantage that our unique cultural heritage offers the community and tourism.”
Queensland’s largest Indigenous tourism employment forum will see the ‘who’s who’ of the Indigenous tourism industry from around the state come together to hear from guests such as New Zealand Maori Tourism Chairman Dale Stephens, Preston Campbell Foundation founder Preston Campbell, Indigenous Art Code Board Director Stephanie Parkin, Reef Magic Cruise’s Marie Taylor and Jeremy Noble, and many more.
They will cover topics including fake Indigenous art; connecting people, sea, country and learning; and the future direction of First Nations tourism in Queensland, just to name a few.
Fake art panel facilitator and The Henderson Gallery owner and principal artist Robert Henderson said the lack of awareness around fake art has a significant negative impact on the entire Indigenous community.
“The damage that fake art causes Indigenous tourism is far reaching, at times subtle and complex,” he said.
“Offering visitors an illegitimate product of significantly lesser value hurts the integrity of the Indigenous tourism industry.
“I hope this panel discussion will underpin and inform a move to formalise legislation whereby genuine items are the exclusive product offering.
“The importance of ceasing the illegitimate practice of cultural appropriation, in all forms, offers a continuity of income, cultural wellbeing, employment through expansion and financial self-determination to the artist whose cultural IP is being hijacked.
“It would also naturally lead to the creation of many small business and employment opportunities across the state, particularly in regional Queensland.”
The 8th Annual QTIC Tourism Indigenous Employment Forum will be held on Wednesday 15 November 2018 at Home of the Arts (HOTA), 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise.
The forum is also part of the DestinationQ program of events:
>> A copy of the forum itinerary can be found here.
PHOTO: Shannon Ruska (from Spirts of the Red Sand), Cheryl Thompson (from Trackers QLD: The Vision Splendid Outback Tour Company), Preston Campbell (from Preston Campbell Foundation) and Johnny Murison (from Jarramali Rock Art Tours) talk about Indigenous business opportunities as part of a panel at the 2017 QTIC Tourism Indigenous Employment Forum.