Why 2021 should be the year for Indigenous travel

It goes without saying that the travel industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Yet as Australians focus their attention on ‘holidaying here’ this year and next, there’s no better time to shine a spotlight on Australia’s incredible Indigenous experiences. 

From Uluru in Central Australia to the palm-fringed islands of the Torres Strait, Australia is brimming with immersive Indigenous experiences that provide an opportunity to connect with and learn from Australia’s First Nations.

In Queensland, 2020 was meant to be the year of Indigenous tourism. A year dedicated to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders and their profile of Indigenous experiences. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, this has now been extended into 2021, and rightly so.

Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness in Callala Bay, NSW © Tourism Australia
Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness in Callala Bay, NSW © Tourism Australia

Keep reading: Indigenous travel experiences in Australia and New Zealand

Tourism Australia has also recognised the value of Indigenous tourism and is banking on it being one of the key offerings that will help the travel industry bounce back.

“As home to the oldest living culture on Earth, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories are rich and diverse, with the potential to provide Australian tourism with a competitive advantage,” Tourism Australia managing director Philippa Harrison told Travel Weekly.

This strategic push comes after the demand for authentic cultural experiences has steadily increased across the country. And if you’re yet to engage with Indigenous tourism, 2021 is the year to do so.

Why Indigenous experiences are worth your time

Indigenous tours and experiences are all about bridging the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. They allow travellers to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous history and culture.

“Once you see the evidence of Aboriginal life, a whole new world opens up. You begin to see the country around you differently,” Marcia Langton wrote in her book Welcome to County: A Travel Guide to Indigenous Australia.

Flames of the Forest experience in Queensland. © Tourism Australia
Flames of the Forest experience in Queensland. © Tourism Australia

Keep reading: The top ten experiences to win your heart at Uluru

As well as this, Indigenous tour operators need our support now more than ever. With no international visitors, many have had to reduce staff and limit trips to communities that are especially vulnerable. It’s time to help them revive and thrive.

“Given the uncertainty with travel around the world in its current state with COVID-19, it’s a great time for all Australians to visit or revisit their backyard safely [and] seek further connection and immersion to Country by undertaking an Indigenous tour,” said Indigenous tourism expert Barry Weare from Cooee Traveller.

“What better way to experience this great land than through Dreamtime stories of the nations First People?”

A growing trend in travel

According to Tourism Research Australia, more people than ever are choosing to experience the beauty and wonder of the world’s oldest continuous culture.

In 2019, one million domestic travellers enjoyed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tourism experience whilst visiting Australia. That’s an increase of 13 per cent per year since 2013.

Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel, Queensland © Tourism Australia

If we can continue this momentum, Indigenous tourism could be a rising trend in 2021 for visitors seeking boutique experiences in art, adventure and conscious travel.

Indigenous experiences are the new trend in 2021, for visitors seeking boutique experiences in art, culture, adventure and conscious travel.

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