The mining sector and indigenous tourism development in Weipa Queensland

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Buultjens, J, Brereton, D, Memmott, P, Reser, J, Thomson, L & O'Rourke, T 2010, 'The mining sector and indigenous tourism development in Weipa Queensland', Tourism Management, vol. 31, pp. 597-606.

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A relatively high proportion of Indigenous Australians live in remote areas where a number of mines are located. Indigenous Australians are more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to be unemployed and to be living below the poverty line and in order to overcome this disadvantage it is important for Indigenous people to gain meaningful employment. In these remote areas, in addition to mining, tourism is seen as potentially providing substantial opportunities for Indigenous employment. However many of these Indigenous tourism enterprises will need on-going support to become sustainable. Mining companies have significant resources and infrastructure that could be used to help develop Indigenous tourism and a number of companies, as part of their corporate social responsibility agenda, have directly facilitated the development of Indigenous tourism ventures. This study examined Indigenous involvement in tourism in the Weipa region of north-west Queensland and the role of the then Comalco bauxite mining operation, now called Rio Tinto Aluminium, in assisting this development. The study revealed substantial enthusiasm about market opportunities for Indigenous tourism and potential support from the Comalco mine. However the mine did not see itself as being directly involved but saw itself as a facilitator working with some regional Indigenous organisations. However given the constraints these other organisations face, this approach by Comalco is likely to limit the effectiveness of the mine’s efforts.

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