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Around the world there are many examples of local
communities empowered by tourism
The theme for this year's World
Tourism Day is how tourism can empower local communities.
Tourism is a powerful driver of positive change across both so-called
developed and less developed communities. The global tourism sector
has many things to be proud of; the jobs it creates, the understanding
of how others live and the preservation of the natural environment
that it supports.
However, if tourism is to be a positive force for change, a balance
needs to be achieved between the many benefits of tourism and also its
potential costs to local communities. The only sure approach to
creating tourism that truly empowers local communities is one that is
well informed, proactively planned and actively managed. It's
essential that communities play an active role in determining the
nature of tourism in their area.
It's worth considering how trained tourism professionals can achieve this.
Like many things in life, it begins with conversations. We need to
engage with community leaders and ‘people on the street' to understand
the issues they're concerned about, whether political, environmental,
social, technological, legal or economic. Using this knowledge,
planning and/or management options can then be explored.
As tourism progresses, communities often need to be empowered through
information. Key performance indicators need to be agreed upon. Data
needs to be collected, analysed and distributed to allow for informed
empowerment. Often this doesn't happen and great plans can quickly run
off track leading to resentment and sub optimal results.
Empowerment of local communities can also come through active
engagement in the tourism sector. While unskilled or low-skilled
employment may produce an income and some level of empowerment,
embracing new skills in the sector, senior management/leadership roles
and entrepreneurial opportunities can be a meaningful pathway to
longer term benefits.
This ideal future is most likely to come about using a collaborative
approach that draws upon the combined skills and knowledge of the
community, trained tourism professionals and innovative entrepreneurs.
Around the world there are many examples of local communities empowered by
tourism. In Australia some of the best case studies are those
where Indigenous Australians are intimately involved in the planning,
management and delivery of tourism experiences in their country. Often
this involves traditional owners combining their skills and knowledge
of the landscape with the technical needs of management, tour guiding
and the like. In these cases balance is achieved and the community is
empowered through its management role, skills development and
employment. The bonus for visitors is that they get the genuine
experience they desire from a community that is passionate and proud
about the destination they are presenting.
For this year's World Tourism Day, Sydney
TAFE Tourism students, teachers and alumni will be celebrating
with a 13km hike of the Coastal Trail from Bundeena to Jibbons Head
and Wattamolla Beach. We have the honour of being accompanied by the
legendary Dave Wright, an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger employed by NSW
National Parks. He will emphasise how the Aboriginal people, the
oldest culture in the world, used sustainability to improve their
communities for over 60,000 years and how those same lessons can be
used to benefit communities today. This event has been supported by
the National Parks
& Wildlife Service and sees the beginning of more positive
engagement for the future between Sydney TAFE Tourism and National
Parks, both communities themselves. It's also promoted on the World
Tourism Day website as one of three to be held in Australia.
Participants at this event will also pick up all rubbish along the
way to demonstrate the importance and benefits of social
responsibility. The immediate objective is to leave the trail and
beach in a better state than before. The overall objective is much
bigger - to inspire tourism students to view their future tourism
careers as an opportunity to make a positive change in this world.
Their future endeavours will be proof of this success.