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Indigenous Tourism

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Indigenous peoples have been seen as a tourist attraction for many years, but they have little control over the tourism activities that are generated nor do they reap many of the potential benefits. However, in conjunction with recent gains in other spheres of their existence such as their success in traditional land claims and more general empowerment in the realm of their sociopolitical standing, they have begun to take more active roles in the tourism economy. Since the publication of Tourism and Indigenous Peoples by Butler and Hinch over a decade ago, indigenous tourism activity has continued to grow, as have the debates about its merit. At the most fundamental level, these debates pit tourism as an agent for indigenous peoples' economic independence and cultural rejuvenation against arguments of hegemonic subjugation and cultural degradation. For indigenous people, the essence of their competitive tourism advantage lies in their unique cultures. This article reviews the conceptual foundation of indigenous tourism as first articulated by Butler and Hinch in 1996 and then focuses on specific themes and issues identified in Butler and Hinch in 2007 that relate to the present and future nature of indigenous tourism. It draws heavily on the introductory and concluding chapters of that volume, and the case studies contained within it. After briefly discussing the problems of definitions and empowerment, the article examines the topic from the standpoint of a number of key issues and themes: image, vulnerability, education and training, knowledge, linkages, ownership and control, ideology, and relationships. The conclusions argue that the prospect for indigenous tourism is uncertain, despite its many positive attributes. It is likely to remain a niche form of tourism, mostly small in scale, dependent on mainstream tourism elements for access to and from markets, but of increasing importance to many indigenous communities as a supplementary form of income and, perhaps, and as one form of economic and cultural empowerment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.
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