Indigenous Tourism in Western Australia Targets Chinese Market with New Initiative

Indigenous Tourism in Western Australia Targets Chinese Market with New Initiative

Indigenous tourism operators in Western Australia (WA) have received a boost to attract more visitors from China, the country’s largest tourism market. Indigenous Tourism in Western Australia Targets Chinese Market with New Initiative

Funding for “Ancient Cultures Meet” Program

The Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC) was awarded $180,000 from the Federal Government’s National Foundation for Australia-China Relations. This funding will support WAITOC’s new initiative, “Ancient Cultures Meet,” designed to bridge the gap between Indigenous tourism experiences and Chinese tourists.

Understanding the Market

WAITOC CEO Robert Taylor believes this program will be a “game-changer” for Indigenous tourism operators. “The funding will help us understand Chinese tourists’ perceptions and their demand for cultural experiences,” he said. The program aims to develop engagement strategies specifically tailored to the Chinese market.

Untapped Potential

While China is Australia’s leading tourism market, Mr. Taylor acknowledges this hasn’t translated to Indigenous tourism. “For many Indigenous operators, China doesn’t even rank in the top 10 markets,” he said. “This project is a crucial first step to addressing that.”

Strategic Location: Perth as a Gateway

WA’s proximity to China, with Perth serving as a popular entry point for Asian tourists exploring Australia, presents a significant opportunity.

Closing the Gap Between Interest and Participation

Research indicates a high level of interest among international visitors – roughly 80% – in incorporating Indigenous experiences into their Australian holidays. However, only 20% follow through by booking with Indigenous operators. The “Ancient Cultures Meet” program aims to bridge this gap by providing practical solutions for Indigenous tourism operators to connect with Chinese tourists.

Collaborative Research and Industry Growth

The program includes a collaborative research project involving industry and universities. The goal is to identify solutions to increase Indigenous tourism operators’ reach in China and prepare them for a potential influx of Chinese visitors.

Indigenous Tourism: A Bright Spot in WA’s Economy

Despite the pandemic’s impact, WA’s Indigenous tourism sector has shown resilience. According to the WA government’s latest data, visitor interest has grown steadily since 2014. Aboriginal tourism businesses contribute over $63 million to the state’s economy and employ more than 500 full-time workers.

Broader National Effort to Re-Engage with China

The “Ancient Cultures Meet” program is part of a larger national initiative to re-engage with China in key economic sectors like tourism and agriculture. Foreign Minister Penny Wong emphasized the importance of these grants in strengthening “community and people-to-people ties.”

Building Partnerships for the Future

Tourism Minister Don Farrell echoed these sentiments, highlighting China’s role as Australia’s largest trading partner and key contributor to tourism. He expressed hope that the grants will foster “meaningful new partnerships and lasting business effects.”

This initiative by WAITOC, along with the broader national effort, positions Indigenous tourism in WA to capitalize on the potential of the Chinese market. The “Ancient Cultures Meet” program has the potential to introduce a wider audience to the rich cultural experiences offered by Indigenous Australians.

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