Issue 20
Monday, 07 November 2016
Charles Darwin University
Northern Institute Professor Rolf Gerritsen
Northern Institute Professor Rolf Gerritsen

Academics link family ties, Indigenous tourism

By Katie Weiss

Family ties could feature in Indigenous tourism, according to two academics from Central Australia.

Dr Benxiang Zeng and Professor Rolf Gerritsen made the observation in a chapter of a recently published book entitled “Indigenous people and economic development”.

Professor Gerritsen said family commitments were a top priority for Indigenous communities in Northern and Central Australia.

He said that adapting western business models to allow Indigenous stakeholders to meet family commitments, such as Sorry Business, would enhance the tourism experience.

“It is important to keep any business involving Indigenous tourism as family-focused,” Professor Gerritsen said.

“That requires running a business in a way that one would not normally expect.”

He said bushwalking tour enterprises in areas including Yuendumu ran effective business models by employing elders from various family groups to lead the walks. That way, members of one family group could lead the walks when another family group was unable to do so due to their family commitments.

Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods PhD candidate Jayson Ibanez, Professor Stephen Garnett and research fellow Beau Austin also contributed a chapter to the book. Their chapter was entitled “Planning sustainable development within ancestral domains: Indigenous people’s perceptions in the Philippines”.

The researchers interviewed Indigenous residents at 10 communities on Mindanao Island, southern Philippines, and found many believed Indigenous knowledge should be incorporated into any plans for developing Indigenous lands.