'Walkabout Tourism': Is there an Indigenous Tourism Market in Outback Australia?

Andrew Taylor, Dean Carson, Doris Carson

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Outback areas of Australia account for much of the landmass with just 5% of the population, many of whom are Indigenous Australians. Despite tourism being an important industry for Outback economies, it has declined in recent decades prompting a search for new and expanding tourism markets. While Indigenous tourism in the form of visits to Indigenous communities, attractions and sites to obtain the Indigenous ‘experience’ has been pursued it has, along with other niche markets, delivered at best limited and isolated successes. But Indigenous people are themselves highly mobile, making frequent and regular trips away from home. In the past these trips were labelled in a derogatory way as ‘walkabout’. The characteristics of these trips posit them firmly within accepted definitions of tourism but, excepting one study on homelessness, there is a vacuum in research on the potential of people ‘on the move’ as a tourist market. Consequently, we do not know the potential size or characteristics of the market, an awkward contradiction given the historical focus on generating tourism at places where Indigenous people live. This study is the first to analyse data for Outback areas from the perspective of providing baseline information about that market. While results are mixed in terms of the potential to support a flailing tourism industry, this study finds that Indigenous people on the move should not be ignored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-252
Number of pages14
JournalAthens Journal of Tourism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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