Indigenous Australians as Tourists – Meimei Xu

Going off of my previous blog posts, what about indigenous Australians as tourists themselves? In a sector focused mostly on the movement of privileged bodies, where does that put indigenous tourists? Historically, the purpose of indigenous travel within Australia prior to colonization was largely guided by social and spiritual responsibilities to enact relationships between the indigenous groups (Peters and Higgins-Desbiolles) . In recent times, there has seen a shift leaning towards diaspora travel with indigenous Australians returning to their ancestral homelands as a way to reclaim their history in the face of Western oppression (Peters and Higgins-Desbiolles). In fact, the very idea of travelling for commercial and attainment of “knowledge” of other cultures is a Western concept, with similar ties to colonialism and imperialism. In essence, the idea of travel and tourism can be (unsurprisingly) seen as a watered-down version of modern colonialism in which case, there seems to historically be a lack of place for indigenous peoples as participants.


Within Australia today, there is a degree of tourism by indigenous people but for the sake of recovering their ancestors scattered remains and material objects (Peters and Higgins-Desbiolles). In this way, tourism speaks to the importance for Australian indigenous groups to reclaim their cultural heritage, shifting the idea of tourism away from “discovering” other cultures to “discovering” one’s personal culture. To include this idea into the current analysis of Australian tourism is tantamount because it adds another facet to the importance of the sector and moves us away from the slippery slope of viewing indigenous people as objects of the natural environment.



Peters, Andrew, and Freya Higgins-Desbiolles. “De-Marginalising Tourism Research: Indigenous Australians As Tourists.” Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, vol. 19, no. 1, Jan. 2012, pp. 76–84. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1017/jht.2012.7.



  1 comment for “Indigenous Australians as Tourists – Meimei Xu

  1. alh9xj
    May 6, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    The way you contrast indigenous travel as discovering one’s own identity vs Western/colonialist travel as discovering others’ cultures is really interesting and not something I knew anything about. I’d always assumed that travel for the purpose of discovery is ok (if done right and not commercializing/exploiting local people), but the existence of this alternative purpose for travel is making me question that.


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