Ecotourism and Indigenous micro-enterprise formation in northern Australia opportunities and constraints

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Fuller, D, Buultjens, J & Cummings, E 2004, 'Ecotourism and Indigenous micro-enterprise formation in northern Australia opportunities and constraints', Tourism Management, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 891-904.

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Indigenous Australians suffer considerable social and economic disadvantage. The challenge for Indigenous communities and policy makers is to discover or create opportunities that will provide sustainable development. Tourism is seen as one sector that could possibly provide such opportunities. Indigenous tourism enterprises are in most situations likely to be micro businesses. Micro businesses, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, have relatively high failure rates so it is important to undertake substantial planning to avoid failure. This paper presents the results of a planning process undertaken by an Indigenous clan planning to operate their own ecotourism micro-enterprise within Ngukurr, an Indigenous community in northern Australia. The study highlights the fact tourism does provide potential for economic development because Indigenous enterprises often have some competitive advantages. In addition, the study highlights the fact that communities often do not have the capacity to undertake all the tasks necessary to establish and operate a commercially successful ecotourism enterprise. Partnerships with other stakeholders within the region can help overcome this constraint. Finally, it is noted that the CDEP scheme has the potential to satisfy the need for funds that cannot be satisfied through normal channels.

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