Indigenous tourism is suffering from an image problem, with a general perception of being staged, commercialised and designed for overseas visitors, according to research company TNS’ Domesticate report.
The study found indigenous tourism suffers from an association with a limited region of Australia, its perceived image as staged and the legacy of past transgressions.
TNS director of travel research Jo Farquhar said: “For Australians, the term ‘indigenous travel’ is so strongly associated with the outback that we are unlikely to look elsewhere for this type of holiday. Most of the people we spoke to struggle to name any indigenous experiences in coastal or city regions, and do not seek these experiences when travelling outside of the outback.”
She added potential customers also worry that a tour or product branded as an indigenous experience might be in-authentic, over-commercialised or staged, especially if it is outside the outback.
There is a perception that these experiences are largely designed for overseas visitors, who are unfamiliar with the culture and wish to see the stereotypes,” Farquhar said.
“In addition, many are saddened by the transgressions of previous generations and aware of the continuing inequalities and issues – holidaymakers do not want carry this sense of powerlessness into their experience.”
Farquhar added language, tone and imagery must reinforce the authenticity of the experience and it must be positive and forward looking to appeal to the domestic market.
Domesticate is a qualitative study into the motivators behind domestic travel. It was conducted in November 2010 using video ethnography, online bulletin boards and focus groups.