Victoria's Aboriginal Tourism Development Plan 2006-2009
Victoria's Indigenous tourism sector has been growing steadily for almost a decade, proving that it adds a vital and engaging dimension to the State's tourism product. Industry leaders such as Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre, the Koorie Heritage Trust and Bunjilaka showcase the vibrancy of Victoria's Aboriginal culture and provide opportunities to learn about Indigenous history, stories and the contemporary lives of Aboriginal people.
During more recent years, many regional attractions have extended the message to wider touring markets. As a result of a new direction and a sense of cooperation among Indigenous operators, as well as renewed commitment from Government, the stage is now set for a major expansion of the sector.
By 2009, Victoria's Aboriginal cultural attractions will enjoy success and a well defined market position within the tourism industry, increased effectiveness of marketing activity, beneficial collaborations, financial and cultural sustainability, a cooperative atmosphere and better business practices.
Victoria's Aboriginal tourism industry is made up of a small number of businesses that are striving for greater professionalism and excellence. Victoria's Aboriginal cultural experiences differ to those offered in other states by providing access to more contemporary aspects of the culture. Consumer appeal for this positioning is yet to be tested in the marketplace and is an important aspect of this plan.
Victoria's Tourism Industry Strategic Plan 2002-2006 identified Aboriginal tourism as a product segment offering potential growth. It is important to Victoria because:
- It allows visitors to experience and learn about Victoria's unique and dynamic Aboriginal cultures.
- It has the potential to attract international visitors and those who seek quality interactive natural, cultural and outdoor adventure experiences.
- It has the potential to bring economic and social benefits to Aboriginal people and to those regions that have identified Aboriginal tourism as a culturally appropriate opportunity in their regional tourism development and destination plans.
- It has the potential to introduce an engaging new dimension to regional tourism product, to complement many existing tourism products and to broaden the tourism experience along Victoria's key touring routes.
Tourism Victoria produced its first industry development plan for Aboriginal tourism in 1997. It set out a series of strategies that included increasing the number of tourism businesses and their products, and involving Government and established tourism networks in assisting the sector to grow.
In 2003 the plan was reviewed and the successful outcomes and remaining issues identified. Since 1997, significant changes for Aboriginal tourism include:
- establishment of a business support service within the Department of Innovation Industry and Regional Development (Koori Business Network)
- forming of a marketing co-operative (Aboriginal Tourism Marketing Association)
- a sector-specific accreditation program (Respecting Our Culture - ROC)
- production of high quality motivational brochures - Ochre Dreaming (2003) and Aboriginal Victoria (2005)
- formal representation at the 2005 Australian Tourism Exchange
- a detailed diagnostic study of Victoria's Aboriginal tourism enterprises (2005)
- joint employment of an Aboriginal Tourism Industry Officer by Tourism Victoria and the Koori Business Network (2005)
- publication of Parks Victoria's Indigenous Partnership Strategy and Action Plan (see Appendix 2)
- a preliminary analysis of demand for the Aboriginal tourism product undertaken by the Commonwealth Government Indigenous Tourism: tailoring your tourism venture for success
- Tourism Victoria's image library updated 2006
- several new major indigenous attractions have been established
- State Government funding to develop Narana Creations, Koorie Heritage Trust, Brambuk - National Park and Cultural Centre and Ballarat Aboriginal Cultural Experience.
However, as is also the case throughout the tourism and small business sector generally, some Aboriginal tourism businesses have closed during this period and the issues identified in 1997 remain as barriers to development.
The key objectives of this plan are:
Cooperation: To enhance sector cooperation, primarily through fostering Aboriginal tourism networks and by encouraging greater engagement with, and cooperation within, the tourism industry, Government and the broader community.
New initiatives: To assist with the establishment of Aboriginal tourism businesses or partnerships and Indigenous cultural tourism activities that are culturally appropriate and aim to attract domestic or international visitors.
Sustainability and growth: To ensure sustainability and growth of Aboriginal cultural enterprises by providing ongoing skills and support in leadership, business management, tourism and higher standards of customer service delivery.
Marketing: To collaborate with industry on marketing initiatives that increase visitation and revenue to Aboriginal cultural tourism activities, and develop consistent systems for monitoring marketing effectiveness.
Development: To support product and infrastructure development for the indigenous tourism sector that meets market demands and increases the range of quality experiences in Victoria.
Key initiatives identified to address these objectives include:
Resources: Assisting in providing resources to a Victorian Aboriginal tourism industry and marketing body, including funding of a cooperative marketing program, so that it can act as the peak organisation in relation to all matters pertaining to Aboriginal tourism in Victoria.
Leadership: Encouraging mentoring and training of potential Aboriginal tourism industry and business leaders, including investigating the development of an Aboriginal tourism leadership foundation that could provide scholarships and mentoring opportunities.
Management: Facilitate greater coordination of the management and provision of government assistance applicable to Victoria's Aboriginal tourism businesses.
Diversity and professionalism: Encourage the development of a greater diversity of culturally appropriate Aboriginal tourism experiences and ensure that these experiences provide high levels of visitor satisfaction.
Accreditation: Extend support for Aboriginal tourism product development programs such as the 'Respecting Our Culture' accreditation program and programs available through the Koori Business Network.
Industry development: Investigate opportunities for further development of built products and experiences that highlight traditional and modern Aboriginal cultural experiences.
Networks: Extend networks and liaison between Aboriginal tourism organisations and individuals in other states and territories.
Industry opportunities: Encourage greater links and engagement with complementary products and sectors, such as conferences, boutique accommodation and nature-based tourism.
Government support: Establish a State Government Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) to provide a more integrated approach to supporting, developing and implementing Aboriginal tourism initiatives.
Government-funded initiatives: Support the development of a number of major Government-funded initiatives, which will significantly contribute to the Victorian indigenous tourism sector, such as:
- The Aboriginal Land and Economic Development Program
- Ballarat Aboriginal Cultural Experience
- Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre
- Bunjilaka - Melbourne Museum
- Early Australians Centre, Mildura