Boost for Indigenous tourism

Danielle RaffaeleNorth West Telegraph
Floating down Red Gorge on tyre tubes in Karijini National Park
Camera IconFloating down Red Gorge on tyre tubes in Karijini National Park Credit: The West Australian

The managing director of a Pilbara Aboriginal tour group says he welcomes State Government funding to bolster the Indigenous tourism sector to make WA a leading destination for cultural experiences.

Pilbara Tours manger Phil Smeeton said although the distribution of funding was broad in scope, investment in Aboriginal social, cultural and economic development was positive.

Last week, the McGowan Government made good on its election promise to bolster Indigenous tourism by injecting $20 million into the Aboriginal Tourism Fund to support Aboriginal people in the industry.

Part of the plan is to develop tourism experiences on the Dampier Peninsula and introduce three new Camping with Custodian camp grounds.

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Mr Smeeton said this would increase jobs for Indigenous people and provide more opportunities to explore the Pilbara.

“Their overall vision to create WA as a premier destination for Aboriginal experiences in Australia is music to our ears because we ... believe that WA has the most significant opportunities for Aboriginal experiences,” he said. “In the case of Port Hedland, to get some of that money or some of that support for some Indigenous cultural experiences that we’re developing would be welcome.

“Port Hedland is home to the world’s largest bulk export port (which is) not only significant from a State or a national perspective but this has world significance. A lot of people who come to Port Hedland ...are fascinated by the port.

“We are the gateway to the Pilbara, really, with an international airport. ...We’ve got places like Marble Bar, Cape Croydon, Karijini and one of the biggest agricultural projects at Pardoo.”

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