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Scope to expand Aboriginal tourism experiences

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Mark Exeter (South West Development Commission), Michael Volgger (Curtin University) and Catrin Allsop (Australia’s South West).
Camera IconMark Exeter (South West Development Commission), Michael Volgger (Curtin University) and Catrin Allsop (Australia’s South West).

The latest tourism research shows there is scope to expand Aboriginal tourism across the South West, with Asian guests particularly keen to experience the world’s oldest living culture.

During last week’s launch in Busselton of a report by Curtin University and Australia’s South West examining tourism product development for Asian markets, co-author Dr Michael Volgger said the most appealing attractions for visitors often involved superlatives.

He pointed to the Busselton Jetty, the world’s longest timber jetty, and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Australia’s tallest lighthouse and the meeting point of the Indian and Southern oceans.

“Both have a story to tell — it has to do with superlatives,” Dr Volgger said.

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The report reveals room to grow “light to moderately long” Aboriginal tourism experiences, incorporating bush tucker and bush medicine.

It also pinpoints dining options that consistently integrate native foods as a “largely untapped potential”.

“The oldest living culture in the world has a lot of appeal with Asians,” Dr Volgger said.

The region is already home to several Aboriginal tourism experiences, including Cape Cultural Tours’ Djiljit tours, and the award-winning Koomal Dreaming.

Dunsborough’s Yarri Restaurant and Bar also takes inspiration from the six Aboriginal seasons and incorporates native foods.

Australia’s South West chief executive Catrin Allsop said there was immense value in Aboriginal tourism and ASW was working closely with the WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council.

“We are launching a collaborative digital marketing campaign later this year inspired by the Aboriginal six seasons calendar to showcase the array of unique tourism experiences and events available,” she said.

WAITOC is the peak body for Aboriginal tours and experiences in WA and helps emerging and existing operators develop and grow.

WAITOC’s Di Below said the organisation was supporting 10 businesses in the South West.

Joey Williams, who operates Poornarti Aboriginal Tours from the Great Southern, said his international visitors had traditionally been from Europe and South Africa, but he was slowly experiencing an increase in Asian interest.

“They want to connect to Country, and that’s what we do — we bring people to Country and show them the old ways ... through art, dance, song,” he said.

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