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In a recent presentation at the University of South Australia, Dr. Skye Akbar discussed her pivotal research on marketing Aboriginal tourism, shedding light on both the challenges and opportunities within this niche yet burgeoning sector of Australia's tourism industry.

Dr. Akbar's journey into this field was driven by a deep commitment to understanding and promoting Aboriginal business, particularly tourism, an area she believes holds immense promise for economic empowerment and cultural exchange. Her research record spans from quantitative analyses of policy impacts to advocating for greater recognition and support for Aboriginal-owned businesses, particularly in remote and regional areas.

One of Dr. Akbar's notable projects involved conducting a quantitative review of the Cashless Debit Card trials in the Ceduna area. Unlike previous studies that relied on qualitative data, Dr. Akbar's team gathered numerical insights from local stores, community organizations, and public services. This approach provided a robust assessment of how the policy impacted spending habits and community dynamics, offering a nuanced perspective often overlooked in policy evaluations.

More recently, Dr. Akbar has returned to her roots in marketing Aboriginal business, exploring how to bridge the gap between interest and actual engagement in Aboriginal tourism. Despite widespread interest in Aboriginal culture and tourism experiences, many potential visitors hesitate to commit due to financial constraints or a lack of awareness about available opportunities.

Dr. Akbar highlights a critical barrier: while there is substantial interest in Aboriginal tourism experiences, converting this interest into participation, resulting in economic benefits for Aboriginal business people remains a challenge. Many Australians, particularly those in lower to middle-income brackets, face cost of living limitations that restrict their ability to participate in paid tourism activities. Moreover, Dr. Akbar underscores the need for broader societal recognition of the value of Aboriginal business, saying that Aboriginal tourism is not just as a cultural experience but as a means of supporting Aboriginal people and communities economically.

Recognizing the economic challenges faced by potential tourists, Dr. Akbar suggests exploring free or low-cost Aboriginal tourism options, such as self-guided tours or visiting cultural events. These experiences not only offer insights into Aboriginal culture but also foster long-term interest and support for Aboriginal business interests.

Dr. Akbar also discusses the role of government policies, such as tourism vouchers introduced post-COVID-19, in potentially stimulating Aboriginal tourism.

While the direct impact of these vouchers on Aboriginal tourism remains to be fully studied, initiatives like these could potentially lower financial barriers and increase participation.

Highlighting recent developments, Dr. Akbar mentions the establishment of the South Australian Aboriginal Tourism Operators Group, aimed at strengthening industry collaboration and advocacy. Such initiatives are crucial in building a cohesive voice for Aboriginal tourism operators and enhancing industry visibility and support.

Looking ahead, Dr. Akbar emphasizes the need for continued research and advocacy to unlock the economic potential of Aboriginal knowledge and tourism. She underscores the importance of accurately measuring the contributions of Aboriginal economies to Australia's GDP— a critical step towards securing more targeted policy support and investment in Aboriginal communities.

Dr. Akbar's work not only sheds light on the complexities of Aboriginal tourism but also advocates for a more inclusive and economically viable tourism sector. By addressing financial barriers, increasing societal recognition, and fostering industry collaboration, Dr. Akbar hopes to pave the way for a future where Aboriginal tourism thrives as a sustainable economic endeavour and a vital cultural exchange platform.

Dr Skye Akbar (Left) and Professor Anne Souvertjis in 2011 at Pukatja, South Australia, in the early days of their research collaboration

Post by Team Writer
Jun 25, 2024 12:10:27 PM