FIVE organisations have joined forces in a project to ultimately develop sustainable Aboriginal-owned and operated tourism businesses.
The Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council, Sea Acres Rainforest Centre-NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Charles Sturt University in Port Macquarie, Arts Mid North Coast and Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast have signed a statement of intent.
They are working together to support the development and promotion of Aboriginal tourism in the area.
Charles Sturt University School of Environmental Sciences Associate Professor Rosemary Black said the aim was to develop sustainable Aboriginal tourism with the ultimate goal of creating sustainable Aboriginal tourism enterprises, owned and run by Aboriginal people.
“I think there is huge potential,” she said.
“Statistics show both domestic and international tourists are looking for Aboriginal tourism experiences.”
A steering group will seek funding to employ a project officer.
Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive officer David Carroll said the statement of intent showed a serious commitment.
“It will provide employment for Aboriginal people, business opportunities for Aboriginal people, and promote and enhance the Aboriginal culture in the area,” he said.
The partnership builds on the Walk with Me program of Aboriginal experiences which has operated out of Sea Acres Rainforest Centre since 2008.
Walk with Me offers a range of tours and educational experiences to share the stories and histories of the Birpai culture and are delivered by local Aboriginal people.
Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council chairman Uncle Bill O’Brien said Walk with Me had delivered unique Aboriginal experiences to more than 5,000 people in the Port Macquarie-Hastings area and had made an important contribution to educating people about Aboriginal culture and to reconciliation.
“Through working together with our project partners and with the community, we aim to expand these experiences to a wider audience and work towards developing long-term Aboriginal tourism businesses,” he said.
National Parks and Wildlife Service northern zone team leader Linda Hall said once established, Walk with Me would deliver unique, immersive Aboriginal nature-based and cultural experiences to the leisure, education, community and corporate markets.
“The goal is to increase the awareness, understanding and appreciation of the Birpai culture, while providing sustainable employment and training and development opportunities in the local Aboriginal community,” she said.