A very Murri Christmas

Rhonda Appo, Indigenous Program Manager, Queensland Tourism Industry Council

Rhonda Appo, Indigenous Program Manager, Queensland Tourism Industry Council

A very Murri Christmas

It’s that time of the year again! A time where everything starts wrapping up and we have the opportunity to reflect back on the year that way. Ohh what a year it was!

This has been one of the biggest years for Indigenous tourism in Queensland, a really exciting year with momentum building towards a stronger, more sustainable sector. The support that we have had from The Star Entertainment Group and the team of Network Champions always amazes me. A group of volunteers striving to grow Indigenous employment, push the boundaries of what is possible and strengthen what is already such a unique and engaging sector of the industry. Thank you to everyone I have had the privilege of working with this year, and I look forward to the next!

We have had a few noteworthy moments this year, kicking the year off with Champions Network Meetings in the south and north. These meetings are a fantastic opportunity for the group to come together, to discuss issues influencing and impacting the sector and to strategize for what comes next. It was the what comes next out of this meeting that lead to next year’s major mission, the development of an Indigenous tourism strategy for Queensland.

From there we were a flurry of activity preparing for our 1st Annual NAIDOC Breakfast. After the 2017 inaugural event sell out, we had a lot to live up to. This year we sold out again, within a week of ticket sales opening. Championing Because of Her we Can, we were able to celebrate the stories of Tammy Williams, Acting Director General, DATSIP, who shared her “Because of her…….we can” story about her mother Lesley,  and the success she has had in her life. We were also lucky enough to have the backdrop of some spectacular Chern’ee Sutton artwork before if flew off to be displayed across the Commonwealth Countries having featured as the backdrop to the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village. A treat for everyone! A proportion of the proceeds made for the event were donated to the Preston Campbell Foundation to create a scholarship for a young lady wanting to start out in the tourism and hospitality industry. An important opportunity for us to give back to the next generation of Indigenous tourism superstars!

Tied in to NAIDOC week we also felt it was an opportune time to have some cultural awareness training with our staff. With a small office of around 14 people from various backgrounds, it is always interesting to share knowledge, history and culture. Our team took an Indigenous Australian Citizenship Test…..now despite the fact that most of them failed, hugely, it was great to share stories, build awareness and discuss some difficult topics in a light hearted way, and as always a great excuse to share some delicious food (thanks to Tukka Functions and Catering).

In November we were privileged to head over to Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), whilst I was lucky enough to escape the camping, our program officer enjoyed some island time before we represented the industry at the careers fair. For a transitioning economy, tourism is now being considered as a growing industry more than ever. It creates opportunities, generates high levels of employment due to the labour intensive nature of the industry and, arguably most importantly, it facilitates the opportunity to share stories, culture and history with visitors. Whether it is through a large organisation, a small experience or art gallery, tourism is an outlet for passing on knowledge, offering wisdom and creating an unforgettable experience.

AS the year wraps up, we celebrated some incredible businesses at the Queensland Tourism Awards with  Mossman Gorge Centre taking out Gold for the Qantas Award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tourism. Our fingers are crossed for a Gold at Nationals too.

On that note, I’ll shut up! Wishing you all a Murri Christmas and a great start to 2019.

Source = Rhonda Appo, Indigenous Program Manager, Queensland Tourism Industry Council
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