Article – As Northern Territory tourist numbers double, Indigenous operators prepare

22 May 2014
Mark Di Stefano
ABC News

PHOTO: Tour operators say contact with Australia’s Indigenous communities enriches tourists’ experience of the country. (Torsten Blackwood)

With Asian holidaymakers flocking to Australia’s north, Indigenous tour operators in the Top End are readying to reap the rewards.
Tourist numbers in the Northern Territory have doubled over the past three years, with visitors from China and its Asian neighbours leading the charge.
On the western edge of Arnhem Land, Neville Namarnyilk is selling his tour to operators new to the Territory, offering small groups time with passionate elders, leaving them with a deep impression.
“Look up there, our ancient story up there. Him is up there – Nadera,” Mr Namarnyilk said.
“We call him Nadera the great hunter the great spirit giver. The great spirit.”
Mr Namarnyilk is among those hoping to benefit from the huge pivot of Asian tourism to the north of Australia
Tour operator Greg Price says contact with Australia’s Indigenous communities enriches tourists’ experience of the country.
“It’s really important to offer that option to people,” he said.
“Otherwise they’ll come up here to Kakadu and Litchfield and never meet … the people who have actually been here for so very long.”
China, Taiwan, Honk Kong, Korea lead tourism charge
Operators say the biggest increase in nights spent in the Territory recently is among tourists from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea, as well as adventurous Kiwis.
Recent government advertising is also zeroing in on the Chinese
“A countryside that is unpolluted, that is accessible, that is not like the countryside in China, that’s part of the key experience,” said Darryl Guppy of the NT Australia China Business Council.

Map showing location of Gulkula in Arnhem LandPHOTO: Arnhem Land tour operators are moving to capitalise on the influx of Asian visitors.

“The unique approach, the unique wildlife, the unique landscapes, that make the Territory a very saleable destination for Chinese tourists.”
Chinese tour operators are also hoping to cash in on the Territory’s appeal, trawling Facebook and the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Weibo, looking for new customers.
“This our homepage of Weibo. And it’s called Uluru Chinese tour. In Chinese it says ‘Speaks Chinese’,” said Steven Wang.
Mr Wang targets those who have been to Australia before, but visited Sydney and Melbourne and now want something different
“They are very interested in learning about the way Aboriginal people are living and also the way they are looking after the land,” he said.
Courtesy of ABC News