Tourism to serve culture: the evolution of an Aboriginal tourism business model in Australia

Tourism to serve culture: the evolution of an Aboriginal tourism business model in Australia Journal Article

Tourism Review

  • Author(s): Scherrer, Pascal
  • Published: 2020

Abstract: Purpose: This paper aims to track the evolution of an innovative Aboriginal tourism business model with deliberate social and community enterprise objectives in a remote setting.Design/methodology/approach: It adopts an in-depth exploratory case study approach to discover key characteristics of an emerging tourism enterprise. The qualitative data sources include publically available planning, promotional and organizational materials, in-depth interviews with key informants and on-site observations. Yunus et al.'s (2010) social business model provides the framework for the case analysis. Findings: Findings highlight the gradual deepening of Indigenous engagement from simply providing a place for a non-Indigenous tourism business' to running a fully Indigenous-controlled, staffed and themed on-country tourism business. Complementing existing non-Indigenous tourism experiences reduced the need for start-up infrastructure and market recognition, thus reducing business risk for the Traditional Owners. Despite substantial changes in the business structure in response to political and maturation factors, the core motivations seemed to remain strong. The business model facilitates value creation to stakeholders in varying ways.Research limitations/implications The contextual nature of Indigenous tourism reflects limitations of qualitative case study methodology. Practical implications: The resulting business model provides a contextually appropriate structure to engage in tourism for achieving cultural and societal goals. It mitigates against the identified risk of low market demand for Indigenous tourism experiences by connecting with established non-Indigenous tourism products, while also allowing for product offering independent thereof. Social implications: Social benefits are high and have potential for replication in similar contexts elsewhere. Originality/value: The paper contributes to the emerging research on culturally appropriate business models in Indigenous tourism contexts and validates a strategy to overcome low demand. It offers a model that for the tourist facilitates a sustainable experience which enables co-production while for the hosts fosters community resilience, intergenerational learning and improved livelihoods. The case highlights opportunities for further research into the interrelationship, dependencies and thresholds between the social and economic profit equations, particularly in the context of the culture conservation economy.

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Scherrer, Pascal, 2020, Tourism to serve culture: the evolution of an Aboriginal tourism business model in Australia, Journal Article, viewed 30 November 2023,

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