Indigenous Culture and Tourism Case Study: Australia
We all want to travel, right? • When people travel, what are the reasons they choose a certain destination? • How could Indigenous populations be impacted by tourism?
Aboriginal Communities • Many Aboriginal communities experience a variety of social problems caused be a lack of educational opportunities, low employment rates, and inadequate health care. • Indigenous-based tourism is one way in which Aboriginal peoples can be empowered and their communities can gain economic independence. • This can be both positive and negative…
Cultural Commodification • Commodification (or commoditization) is the transformation of goods and services (or things that may not normally be regarded as goods or services) into a commodity. • When we apply this to a culture, it means that parts of the culture; artefacts, clothing, dance, music, folklore, architecture, heritage and geographic landscapes; are being packaged and offered for sale.
Loss of Culture • Many indigenous cultures feel that they suffer a form of culture loss because they do not control the commodification of their culture through tourism. • Culture can be seen as a form of intellectual property… meaning that it is owned by an individual or group, and no-one has the right to take or use it without the permission of the owners.
This means that tourism that is focussed around, and profits from, indigenous cultures without their consent or approval could be theft (financial and intellectual) and can also be very offensive. • Interactions with dominant cultures also means the spread of dominant values and beliefs, some of which may contradict the values of the indigenous group and cause conflict within the culture.
Reduction of Culture • They also run the risk of reducing their culture to a single element – the feasts and fashion phenomenon.
Loss of Land • Another concern is when tourist industries hamper indigenous culture’s ability to carry on their way of life. • For example, In 2002, the Botswana Bushmen were forcibly expelled from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), part of their traditional ancestral lands and essential to maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. This area sees huge revenues from Eco-tourism and safaris. After going to court, their land was reinstated in 2006. Despite the court ruling, the government has since banned them from accessing a borehole, which they rely on for water.
Environment • With an increase in tourists, comes an increase in garbage, pollution, resource use, infrastructure development, etc., all of which can upset the balance between humans and environment and could potentially affect indigenous people in a negative way.
Promotes Sustainability • It can be a positive, however, if it takes place on their own terms, serves their interests and promotes the image they wish to share about themselves and their culture. • Many cultures want to share and interact with other groups, but few want to be just a sideshow attraction.
Eco-Tourism • Ideally, ecotourism satisfies several general criteria, including the conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity through ecosystem protection, promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity, share of social-economic benefits with local communities through informed consent and participation, increase in environmental and cultural knowledge, affordability and reduced waste, and minimization of its own environmental impact.
Sharing Knowledge • It can also be an important way for indigenous cultures to share their way of life and traditional knowledge. • This could be a way for us to understand alternative ways of living in the world that are more environmentally sustainable.
Reconnection Opportunity • Tourism can be an avenue for non-Aboriginal people to experience and come to understand Aboriginal culture and beliefs. • Through tourist ventures, Aboriginal communities can continue their drive towards self-determination.
Indigenous Tourism in Australia • 80% of international tourists to Australia indicate that they are interested in experiencing Aboriginal-based attractions and learning about art, religion and traditions. • However, only 37% of tourists leave Australia without having experienced Aboriginal culture.
Aboriginal Tourism • The Aboriginal tourism industry generates about $5million/year. • Aboriginal arts and crafts account for another $200million/year.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta • Originally known as Ayers Rock and The Olgas. • National Park was established in 1950 and in 1985 it was returned to its traditional owners, the Anangu. • The Anangu now lease the park back to the National Park Service. • Jointly managed by federal government and Anangu people.
Climbing Uluru • Climbing Uluru is an established tourist tradition. • Over 350,000 people visit the park each year and 20% of them climb the rock. • The route to the top of this 345metre monolith is 1.5 km long. • It is a dangerous climb with an average of 10 deaths/year.
Sacred Site • Uluru is a sacred site of the Anangu people. • The site contains tracks of the journeys of the ancestors. • Some of the ancestors remain a part of these tracks. • The Anangu people ask tourists not to climb the rock and affect the sacredness of the site.
To climb or not to climb? • Would you climb Uluru if you visited the park? Why or why not? • Brainstorm ways that people could make tourism more culturally sensitive and improve the sustainability for indigenous groups.