Aboriginal Tourism in Central Australia

Lindsay Bookie talks to tourists around the campfire at his outstation near Bonya

Domestic and international tourists are increasingly seeking out Aboriginal cultural experiences when they plan their holidays in the Northern Territory.

Parks

Cultural and scenic tourism in jointly-managed areas like Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park and now some of Central Australia's other spectacular parks are, or are about to be, ( the West MacDonnell National Park for instance) on areas of Aboriginal land, leased back by the traditional landowners for everybody to enjoy. They attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

One of the significant benefits of the joint management of national parks in the Northern Territory by the Parks and Wildlife Service and traditional owners has been the economic opportunities for traditional owners.

While they may not be involved directly in jobs with tourists like running tours,  many traditional owners take the opportunity to be employed in maintaining and developing the parks' infrastructure.

More information about the Territory's national parks and joint management is >>here

Steady Growth

There are also a number of non-Aboriginal tourism operators providing services on Aboriginal land who operate by agreement with traditional owners.

Tourism operators are more and more interested in getting access for small groups of  tourists to the unique natural and cultural features of Aboriginal land.

Agreements for tourism operations on Aboriginal land contain provisions for access arrangements, fees, leases, use of local Aboriginal "guides", use of local Aboriginal contractors and training of local Aboriginal people.

Smaller ventures with camping and scenic and cultural tours are also being developed by the CLC and traditional landowners.

The CLC helps prospective Aboriginal tourism enterprises research and plan their businesses, train traditional owners to work for and manage the enterprises, and clear and protect sites where tourists might visit.

Participation of traditional owners in the tourism industry is only expected to grow, with joint management of parks and the future development along the Mereenie Loop Road and development of the Red Centre Way route just two examples of future opportunities.