17 August, 2021
Indigenous tourism funding coup
Bamaga Enterprises Ltd (BEL) has secured $100,000 in federal government funding from the Indigenous Tourism Fund, which it will use to provide new tours from its accommodation business, Cape York Peninsula Lodge.
The grant will enable BEL to purchase a purpose-built four-wheel drive bus with a capacity of up to 18 passengers and operate cultural discovery tours to showcase the natural wonders and Indigenous culture of the remote Cape York Peninsula region.
BEL chair Robert Poipoi said the new tourism product would fill the gap for tour groups and business travellers to the region.
“It will enable these types of travellers to extend their stay at Cape York Peninsula Lodge, and will also be suitable for the family adventure market arriving by road or ferry,” Mr Poipoi said.
“BEL is a community-owned Indigenous organisation and our goal is to support the community.
“These tours will benefit the wider NPA in terms of visitor spend and job creation.
“The opportunity for tourists to experience and understand the NPA’s Indigenous culture is not being sufficiently met at the moment, so we’re excited that we will soon be able to offer this.”
Tourism & Transport Forum’s research on Cultural and Heritage Tourism in Australia found domestic travellers staying overnight at a destination spent 56 per cent more and stayed longer when they incorporated cultural activities into their visit.
Cape York Peninsula Lodge will operate a return day trip hosted by a locally employed Indigenous Bamaga driver-guide.
Guests will travel through rugged Cape York Peninsula country, swim at Fruit Bat Falls, cross the Jardine River and visit historic local sites, before finally reaching the northernmost Tip of Australia.
Optional extras will include wine, poolside canapés at the lodge, and a cultural performance from the award-winning traditional Torres Strait Island dance troupes Naygayiw Gigi and Guba Markai Cultural Group.
The tour will also incorporate the story of the migration of the Torres Strait Islanders from Saibai Island to Bamaga, and information about the Aboriginal culture groups of the region. Visitors will witness Indigenous cave paintings and ruins at historical Somerset, and WWII wreckage.
“It’s the untold story of the NPA that can be respectfully shared with visitors,” Mr Poipoi said, adding that the new tour was scheduled to launch around Easter 2022.
Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the grants were designed to help Indigenous-owned tourism businesses and community organisations increase the number of Indigenous tourism products available and support the start-up, stabilisation or growth of operators in the sector.
“We are extremely proud of the rich history and Indigenous cultures we have in the region and want to showcase this to as many people as we can,” the MP said.
Mr Poipoi thanked Mr Entsch for his support in securing the funding for BEL, with the organisation receiving the equal-largest grant amount across Australia.
“On behalf of Bamaga Enterprises, I’d also like to thank the National Indigenous Australians Agency, NPA Regional Council, Regional Development Australia Tropical North, NPA Family and Community Services, and SeaSwift for their support of our grant application,” Mr Poipoi said.