Indigenous culture in the spotlight in new tourism campaign


Fifty thousand years of Indigenous culture and stories are the new weapons in a first-of-its kind tourism campaign going out to the world.

A new tourism campaign launched today is being hailed as a chance to empower Indigenous communities across the land.

It's Tourism Australia's new approach and Indigenous Australia's new opportunity.

The three and half minute short film was shot across New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and features some of Australia's most stunning sites.

Its creators are keen to tell a story of Indigenous pride, history and natural beauty to an international audience.

"From salt water people to fresh water people, from sunrise people to sunset people," says one of its two creators, acclaimed Aboriginal director Warwick Thornton. "It's just got all the stuff that you want to celebrate about being Aboriginal and what we have to offer to the rest of the world in story and song and dance and showing people the different way of looking at country and land and looking at culture."

Only around 14 per cent of tourists to Australia experience Indigenous culture.

John O'Sullivan, the managing director of Tourism Australia says the idea is to grow that number by promoting the film in key markets like China, Indonesia, Germany, the UK, the United States, Malaysia and South Korea.

"We have over 50 Indigenous tourism operators now that we really do believe are export-ready. The Nothing Like Australia brand is now in a place where we feel confident enough in ourselves to be able to launch an initiative like this. So it's purely a timing issue," he says.

Tourism Australia wants to grow Indigenous tourism by five per cent every year and hopes to reach around 50 million potential foreign tourists on flights, in hotels and at airports with its new short film.

It has also partnered with Indigenous Business Australia to connect visitors with local Indigenous tour operators, like Sonya Jeffrey.

"We've worked really hard to get where we are going. It's not easy to get into this program, but it does help us build our businesses from an economic perspective and from a marketing perspective," she says.

These thoughts are echoed by Quetin Agius, who runs Aboriginal Cultural Tours in South Australia.

"We can show off our old people who are still alive today, with knowledge of country and to get our international guests and even local guests involved with our people. It's a major thing for us," he says.

Director Warwick Thornton says the new campaign is also about Indigenous empowerment.

"Someone who's Aboriginal who's sitting in a community, or sitting in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide or Sydney, can go 'hey I've got song and dance as well and I know my history and I know my lineage and I've got something to offer and I can actually create my own empowerment in a sense'. So, for Indigenous people to see it, it's a celebration of who we are and how strong we are, which I find really important."

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