Great Barrier Reef Indigenous Tourism: Translating policy into practice

Adrian Marrie

Tourism Australia identifies “Aboriginal Australia” as one of seven signature Australian Experience Themes, while Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) has the intention of making Queensland the country’s number one destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is Queensland’s greatest natural asset and major destination for both domestic and overseas tourists. It also forms part of the traditional estates of 41 Indigenous Traditional Owner (TO) groups with rights to “sea country” along the GBR. Although the opportunities might seem abundant, there is little participation by TOs in the GBR tourism industry. There are only a handful of Indigenous-owned businesses offering Indigenous-mediated experiences. The challenge is how to translate TEQ’s policy objective into reality by working principally with TOs, Regional Tourism Organisations and tourism operators to find avenues to encourage Indigenous participation in GBR tourism. The 2020 report identifies a number of actions that could be taken, and the presentation considers some of the outcomes one year on.