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Indigenous tourism hit hard by Coronavirus crisis

Indigenous tourism hit hard by Coronavirus crisis
August 13, 2020

Australia’s Indigenous tourism sector - one of the industry’s top performers over the past decade - has been hit hard by Coronavirus travel restrictions and border closures.

The newly released Indigenous Tourism Sector Analysis commissioned by Tourism and Events Queensland shows that international tourists accounted for at least 65% of participants in the state’s indigenous tourism visitors, a downward trend echoed around Australia.

Of these 25% were from China, 15% United States and 10% United Kingdom.

The report also reveals that the sector faced challenges pre-COVID with indigenous tourism visitors slumping from 428,000 to 424,000 in 2018/19 after outstanding growth of 55% in the preceding four years. 

However, spending in 2018/19 did increase and reached a record $505 million, up 15% year on year. 

Following the release of the findings last month, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that the state’s Year of Indigenous Tourism promotion will extend into 2021, advising “Queensland’s tourism and events industry is enduring an incredibly difficult year due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

“And Its common sense now to extend the Year of Indigenous Tourism through into 2021, so we can further boost the profile of Indigenous experiences in Queensland as our state recovers from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Extending this state-wide promotion will play a vital role in our economic recovery as today’s release of an extensive study of this growing sector shows.

“Now, more and more tourists want a cultural experience when they travel and Queensland is perfectly placed to capitalise on that demand.”

The Indigenous Tourism Sector Analysis report also showed that more than 420,000 visitors take part in an Indigenous tourism activity every year and that the sector and employs nearly 2500 people on a full-time basis.

Acknowledging the value of the study, Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones, stated “this comprehensive supply and demand study is the first of its kind into Indigenous tourism in Queensland.

“It proves just how important Indigenous tourism will be to the future of the whole industry in Queensland.

“Cultural experiences will be integral to a resurgence in international tourism as the recovery kicks in following COVID-19.”

Noting  that the report found the potential for the Indigenous tourism sector promising, with the industry on a ‘positive trajectory of sustainable growth and development’, Minister Jones added “not only has this study provided us with a better understanding of the value of Indigenous tourism to Queensland, but it gives us insights into how we can continue to grow and develop this important sector of Queensland’s tourism industry.

“The report stated that Indigenous tourism businesses in Queensland are in a unique position to consolidate efforts of the last 10 years by strategically capitalising on the Year of Indigenous Tourism and the launch of the Queensland First Nations Tourism Plan earlier this year.

“Tourists and holidaymakers are seeking an authentic experience. When they travel they really want to delve into the local culture, understand a destination’s people and leave feeling more enriched.

“The growing number of visitor experiences on offer is a fantastic way to showcase Queensland’s rich Indigenous heritage to travellers and provide insights and appreciation of Australia’s history and traditions, which date back more than 60,000 years.

“From Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait and the renowned Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park north of Cairns to the incredible natural setting of Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and a host of new experiences being developed with the Quandamooka people on Minjerribah, Queensland is the best place for tourists to discover Australia’s ancient culture.”

The Indigenous Tourism Sector Analysis was commissioned by Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ), with the research conducted by the University of Queensland and Griffith University.

Click here to downland the report.

Images: Queensland's Year of Indigenous Tourism (top, courtesy of TEQ), Olkola National Park (middle) and Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones (below).

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