Support & expand Aboriginal tourism and business development

Headshot of Dale

Aboriginal tourism employs well over 400 people with full-time jobs and contributes roughly $44 million in gross state product. The Aboriginal business sector is growing rapidly and faster than the rest of the economy.

Survey results show that 80% of visitors to WA are interested in Aboriginal tourism experiences, but just 20% take part in such activities. There is also an appetite amongst residents to learn more about First Nations culture and participate in day tours.

Clean State strongly supports programs that work together with indigenous entrepreneurs and communities to guarantee products are market-ready and that any disadvantage is accounted for and remediated, whilst ensuring self-determination. The 2019 State Budget allocated just $3.6 million for Aboriginal tourism initiatives.


The proposal

WAITOC in partnership with Clean State are advocating for the state government to support Aboriginal tourism enterprises through a seven-part package that includes:

  1. A second round of immediate assistance for Indigenous tourism operators
  2. An iconic Perth-based Aboriginal Cultural Centre, with WAITOC having a seat at the table during the planning and design of the Centre, and a permanent home inside the Centre once it’s established.
  3. Commitment to funding more Aboriginal Cultural Centres (similar to Bilya Koort Boodja in Northam) in each of the five major tourist regions.
  4. Expand the Camping with Custodian projects and support ‘Luxury Cultural Camping’ enterprises in regions not already covered.
  5. Increase core funding to the WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC) to $2m per year to better support existing and emerging businesses.
  6. Revitalise tourism business support and development through a new Aboriginal Tourism Academy with funding of $3m per year.
  7. Funding for Welcome to Country presence at Visitor Centres
WAITOC board in front of a statue

WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council

“Aboriginal tourism is a unique growth industry in Western Australia. As the world’s oldest living culture, Aboriginal culture offers tourism experiences unique to Australia not available anywhere else in the world. A strong, diverse and self-supporting Aboriginal business sector is key to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and placing Aboriginal business owners, their families, and communities in the driver’s seat of their economic future.”

– Robert Taylor, CEO WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC)

Case Study: Award winning Imintji Campground and Art Centre, Gibb River Road: ‘A Place to Sit Down’

Once an important rest point for bullock drivers on the Gibb River Road, Imintji Camping with Custodians initiative provides a welcome stop-over for travellers, with newly refurbished campgrounds, a thriving Art Centre. And modern amenities including wifi and even barista-made coffee.

The campground being built provided a turning point for the remote community, turning it into a thriving destination and a reason for locals to stay and work. The Campground provides employment for around 12 local people and the knock-on economic development at the community shop has brought the town back to life. In 2017 the Campground won a national public engagement and community planning award.

What would it cost?

Up to $200-400m for a world class Aboriginal Cultural Centre (with assumed leverage of additional contributions from the Commonwealth and private sector).

An additional $14.6m per year for:

  • An additional $1.1m pa for WAITOC
  • $3m pa for the Aboriginal Tourism Academy
  • At least $7.5m for five new Aboriginal Cultural centres
  • $6m additional funding for six new Camping with Custodians enterprises in regions not currently catered for, from the Gascoyne to Great Southern.

In addition to supporting over 400 people already employed in Aboriginal tourism, this package would create 220-1240 jobs including up to 1000 construction jobs on cultural centres.