I was very pleased to hear at World Travel Market about a new conference which is being planned next year which I believe is the first in the world to focus on how effective and culturally sensitive tourism can be developed by indigenous peoples and their representative organizations. This will be a great conference for tourism operators, tourist boards, governments, development agencies, NGOs, universities and research bodies.
The Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference is a joint initiative between the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), Tourism Northern Territory and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and is supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). It will be held at the Darwin Convention Centre on September 27-28 2011. ATEC chairman John King said the conference was grounded in Pacific Asia but was intended to address the issues faced by indigenous peoples globally. "A community which is struggling to understand, or connect with tourism can find itself operating in a silo," he said. "The global tourism industry needs to work harder to help indigenous peoples to harness benefits from tourism on their own terms. We want this conference to give a platform to those people, to bring silos of expertise together and to develop an understanding of what best practice might look like so that travel organisations and governments can learn from and foster indigenous tourism enterprise."
The organisers hope to attract 500 people to the conference to share best practice and together conclude the conference with a "Darwin Declaration on Indigenous Tourism" which will establish principles for the development of indigenous tourism and its incorporation into mainstream tourism activities. The conference organising committee is working closely with the Larrakia people of Darwin who have been invited to welcome delegates and especially representatives of Indigenous peoples from around the world. The Larrakia people are also providing the artwork and logo for the conference brand and promotion.
The formal intentions of the conference - which will also fall on UNWTO World Tourism Day 2011 - are to:
- Establish the role of tourism in indigenous advancement and cultural preservation.
- Celebrate indigenous tourism experiences as a vehicle for cultural understanding, sustainability and peace.
- Establish the role of indigenous participation in enriching tourism and differentiating destinations.
- Learn from successful examples of ways of assisting the development of indigenous businesses and profitable tourism involvement.
- Understanding and overcoming impediments to indigenous tourism development.
- Developing a way forward for indigenous tourism advancement
On the two days following the conference a field visit will be held in Kakadu World Heritage Area. This visit will involve the Kakadu Board of Management and Bininj and Mungguy tourism operators, who are traditional owners of Kakadu, in the activities. UNESCO has held up Kakadu as a world case study on the involvement of Indigenous peoples in the management and interpretation of World Heritage Areas. UNESCO will also be invited to participate in the conference.
Conference Updates and Registration Information will be available early in the New Year