Synergies between Australian indigenous tourism and ecotourism: possibilities and problems for future development

Document Type


Publication details

Buultjens, J, Gale, D & White, NE 2010, 'Synergies between Australian indigenous tourism and ecotourism: possibilities and problems for future development', Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 497-513.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



This paper examines and finds synergies between indigenous tourism and ecotourism in Australia. Both were recognised in the 2003 Tourism White Paper as drawcards for international tourists; Tourism Australia markets both as two of the country's seven key visitor experiences. Despite this, and the proven need to assist indigenous peoples' socio-economic position, the indigenous tourism sector remains relatively immature. The paper, using a mixed-methods approach, including in-depth discussions with 26 indigenous tourism businesses, examines this problem and suggests ways forward. The results indicate that between 50% and 70% of indigenous tourism businesses are located in remote or very remote areas and utilise the environment to a substantial degree. Communities, couples and families dominate ownership patterns. Only 25% operate on a full-time basis. However, indigenous operators do not necessarily see themselves as being “ecotourism” businesses, despite their concern for and care of country. Very few are accredited: the ecotourism accreditation process is complex and expensive with guidelines based upon Westernised views of nature. Major changes in accreditation practice are suggested along with education and support for indigenous tourism businesses to ensure a stronger relationship between indigenous tourism and ecotourism and to improve Aboriginals' socio-economic status.

Find in your library