Australian indigenous tourism policy: practical and sustainable policies?

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Whitford, MM & Ruhanen, LM 2010, 'Australian indigenous tourism policy: practical and sustainable policies?', Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 475-496.

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This paper reviews the development of Australia's policies for indigenous tourism and analyses those policies for their sustainable tourism content. It notes that in Australia, tourism is increasingly seen as an instrument for sustaining indigenous communities, many of whom look to tourism for a better future. Growing intervention from Australian federal and, more recently, State/Territory governments has sought to create tourism policies to facilitate market growth and product development in the indigenous sector. Yet the effectiveness and appropriateness of these policies, particularly in terms of a sustainable approach to development, has been questioned. A qualitative study of Australian State/Territory governments' policy for indigenous tourism examines the extent to which sustainable development principles are addressed. The results revealed that 32 of the 35 analysed policies demonstrated “sustainability rhetoric” that lacked the rigour and depth to realise any legitimate moves towards achieving sustainable tourism development for indigenous peoples. Based on the study's findings, this paper recommends that there cannot be a “one size fits all” framework for indigenous tourism development to suit all circumstances. Policies need to draw upon indigenous diversity and, in a consistent, collaborative, coordinated and integrated manner, provide the mechanisms and capacity-building to facilitate long-term sustainable indigenous tourism.

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