ROTTNEST Island will have its first Aboriginal tourist experience under a new government plan to entice overseas and interstate visitors to WA.
The plan will see the WA Tourism Commission collaborate with the Rottnest Island Authority, the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and Perth Zoo.
The state government has called for Aboriginal tourism operators to submit expressions of interest for Kings Park and Rotto.
More than 700,000 people visit Rottnest each year, but there isn’t any Aboriginal cultural experiences at the island.
Rottnest Aboriginal heritage officer, Ezra Jacobs-Smith, believes an Aboriginal tour would let tourists engage “in a meaningful and genuine way” with the island’s dark colonial past.
“It would be a great thing for everybody involved,” he said. “It would be a great thing for the government, it would be a great thing for the Aboriginal community and the non-Aboriginal community as well.
“There’s been a bit of a push for Aboriginal people to set up tourism businesses on the island.”
The call for tour operators is part of the government’s Aboriginal Tourism Action Plan, which has not been released yet, leaving WA with no Aboriginal tourism policy heading into 2019.
Premier Mark McGowan said Aboriginal culture was an important part of the local tourism industry.
“If we can harness it and make sure it’s appropriately promoted…it’ll enhance job opportunities, particularly for Aboriginal Western Australians,” he said.
Mr McGowan added that the initiative would promote growth and respect between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in WA.
“We have to continue to consider and nurture Aboriginal people and their ancient culture that has existed in this land for many years. [It is] an important part of understanding where we come from.”
Expressions of interest for the Kings Park attraction close on January 14.
by SEAN HILL