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$1 million boost for Indigenous tourism on the Gold Coast

$1 million boost for Indigenous tourism on the Gold Coast
July 12, 2012

A showcase of Aboriginal culture and Australian wildlife will be established on the Gold Coast through a $1 million Strategic Tourism Investment Grant (STIG).

Federal Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP, announced STIG funding for four Indigenous tourism projects through the four-year, $40 million T-QUAL Grants program.

Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld received a $1 million grant to help convert its existing Wildlife Experience into the new Australian Aboriginal Wildlife Experience.

Minister Ferguson explained "the STIG funding will support the first of three stages of development that will help visitors engage with the new uniquely Australian experience.

"It follows a previous T-QUAL Grant for Dreamworld to conduct a feasibility study and detailed business plan for the project.

"The theme park's owners have worked closely with local traditional owners who consulted inbound tourism operators, particularly from Asia, to ensure the new attraction meets visitor expectations.

"The development of quality Indigenous tourism experiences, such as that being built here in Dreamworld will help ensure Australia's ongoing competitiveness as a tourism destination.

"As well as showcasing local indigenous culture, Indigenous tourism products, even more importantly, provide real job opportunities for local Indigenous Australians and will have flow on benefits for the whole community."

Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) Chief Executive John Lee said the funding will drive tourism demand stating "Aboriginal culture is one of Australia's key points of difference as a tourism destination ... and one which has not been fully realised.

"The grants announced today will help with the development of unique experiences which will open indigenous culture up to a broader audience.

"The Yolngu people's proposed plan for Arnhem Land will create economic activity for the region and provide sustainable job opportunities for locals.

"Having a masterplan will ensure there is a variety of authentic activities and experiences on offer, helping to reinforce the Yolngu's connections with their country and allowing them to build local, indigenous-owned tourism businesses.

"The grant allocated to Dreamworld will give visitors the chance to learn about different indigenous cultures through the interpretive experiences this attraction will deliver.

"Developing indigenous experiences in metropolitan areas provides an opportunity for the majority of international visitors to Australia who do not venture outside the cities.

"It will create interest in those cultures, giving audiences a taste of the ancient rituals which are central to Aboriginal cultures and encouraging future dispersal to regional areas for a truly immersive indigenous experience."

T-QUAL Grants are awarded through a competitive, merit-based process to create sustainable economic growth in the tourism industry.

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