Famous explorer: Aboriginal tourism could revolutionize the industry

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Renowned National Geographic explorer-in-residence Wade Davis says he thinks Aboriginal tourism can build a new geography of hope.

Davis was in Vancouver yesterday, delivering the keynote speech to the second annual Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism and Trade Conference.

The three-day event brought together indigenous groups from around the world to form partnerships, share stories and discuss best practices on promoting the burgeoning field.

Davis says the growing field of Aboriginal tourism has to be about more than boosting quotas of First Nations in the industry.

He says he thinks there’s a moral and huge opportunity to become ambassadors for an entire new way of being.

Davis told his audience that First Nations groups engaging in tourism on their own terms could revolutionize the sector by encouraging a deeper appreciation of cultural diversity.

He explained his belief that Aboriginal tourism can give visitors a sense of authenticity and cultural wonder, and said First Nations tourism operators have the opportunity to be ambassadors for a new breed of tourism that helps protect and celebrate the cultures of the world.

Aboriginal Tourism Association of B-C head Keith Henry agrees that First Nations’ tourism is unique because it provides a snapshot into a culture and its people.

He says visitors are really looking for new experiences, unique experiences and want to know the true history and story of the land.

Indigenous tourism in B-C employs 34-hundred people, reached 50 million dollars in revenue this year and Henry expects it to hit 68 million dollars by 2017.