The way Indigenous people choose to represent themselves and their culture(s) are greatly contrasted with the way ‘souvenir’ shops choose to represent indigenous people and their culture(s). Indigenous tourism is not as simple as it sounds there are many issues within the industry. Some of these issues include authenticity issues such as mass production, imitations, copyright infringements, stereotypes, commercialisation, and ignorance. So therefore the question is what impact do these issues have on the interpretation view that tourists are exposed to about Indigenous culture and how useful is the Lonely Planet Guide in assisting tourists during their indigenous experience. The Lonely Planet Guide is designed to portray an Indigenous tour; stating what tourist should visit and what they should expect. Indigenous tourism has come a long way but as stated there are still many issues that need to be resolved in order to reduce the complexities of Indigenous tourism.
Authenticity is significant in preserving the value of Indigenous art and authenticity is portrayed by how the art is produced. Authentic Indigenous artworks will always depict the history of the artist (Western Desert Mob). Unfortunately some Indigenous artworks are not always authentic as they are produced under debatable conditions and recognition has been an issue. Issues of authenticity extensively disadvantage the artist, their family and community. For example some elderly artists are removed from their community in order to produce art without family support and without any clear benefits (Western Desert Mob). This affects the artworks due to the fact the artists style starts to change as they are no longer in their community with their family; they tend to lose passion in what they are producing. If these issues contain to occur then Aboriginal art will no long be sustained it is only with the support of authentic art that these artworks are sustainable for future generations.
Some of the unfair and unethical practices seen throughout Sydney include paying Indigenous artists unfairly for example when a souvenir shop owner was asked “how much of the profits made go back to Indigenous culture,” she stated that she did not know and walked away without explain much. On the other hand when an Indigenous operated business owner such as Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery (AAAG) was asked the same question she stated that the artist received a lump sum payment. Other issues include selling fakes and forged works, non-Indigenous artists creating Indigenous style art and passing it off as produced by Indigenous artists, and falsely stating the origin of products – selling overseas mass produced products as authentic Indigenous craft (Janke & Quiggin, 2006). This can lead to loss of faith in the consumer which then can lead to loss of sales which results in loss of income to artists, and art centres (Janke & Quiggin, 2006). Furthermore this leads to false representation of Indigenous culture as the buyer is not aware the item is mass produced rather than it being authentic and hand crafted. False interpretations can degrade and exploit many Indigenous communities and their cultural beliefs and values.
The mass production of Aboriginal objects is a major issue seen throughout Sydney. The purchase of Aboriginal art happens all around the world (Simons, 2000). Souvenir shops are the worst when it comes to mass producing objects; they state their objects are Australian made although there is no sign that they were created by Indigenous artist and all the objects they were selling were stereotypical Aboriginal objects for example T-shirts, tea-towels, mugs, bags, and boomerangs. Some of their items even clearly said ‘made in China’ and ‘made in India’ there was no indication that they had purchased these designs from Indigenous artist. On the other hand many of the Indigenous operated tourist businesses display certificates certifying the artwork was done by an Indigenous artists and one store Spirit of Downunder even displayed photographers of the artist with the artwork. Mass production impacts on the value system of Aboriginal art and objects. Tourists are led to believe this is what indigenous culture is all about leaving out the negative part of Indigenous culture.
Mass production is not the only issue in relation to Aboriginal culture there is also the issue of copyright infringements. In some cases the collaboration by the artists and non-Indigenous companies has been successful nationally and internationally. However there remains a considerable amount of illegal products on the market (Simons, 2000). Complaints and alleged breaches of copyright have been monitored by the Aboriginal Arts Management Association. Aboriginal designs have been produced on many objects by non Aboriginal people. The tourism industry has to be cautious when using images of Aboriginal people, artworks, cultural sites and landscapes for purposes such as tourist marketing (Zeppel, 1998). Copying well known artists work is a crime no matter how you look at it (Newstead, 1999). There needs to be better laws established in order to protect Indigenous people from such issues as it creates conflict.
Indigenous tourism is some what commercialized and this one of the reasons why Indigenous tourism is so complex. Some tourists are not interested in cultural heritage they would rather just buy Aboriginal art in a gallery or see a one hour dance performance (Zeppel, 1998). This can create misconceptions of what Aboriginal culture is about. If commericalisation is necessary then it should be done with the full persmission of traditional owners and custodians. There has always been an issue on whether Indigenous art production is cultural or commerical (Altman, 2005). On one hand there is a belief that Aboriginal art represents living cultural heritage as seen at a shop known as Original and Authentic Aboriginal Art where everything they display is authentic, certified and represents Aboriginal culture. On the other hand there is pressure to interpret the marketing of Aboriginal art as commerical to enhance Aboriginal economic and social well-being (Altman, 2005). For example Natural Selection Souvniers state that all their designs are authentic as they are bought off the orginal artist and labelled they are made by the Indigenous artist. Although most of their objects looked mass produced and stereotypical. These debates will continue to occur as long as the art and centres are not recognised as both cultural and commerical.
Cross culture is one of the many complexities of Indigenous tourism it has created conflicts between management and Indigenous people. Aboriginal culture is constantly evolving. Contemporary as well as traditional values need to be acknowledged. Indigenous people need to understand their rights and consumers need to know that they are protected from misleading representations (Department of Consumer and Employement Protection, 2007). The tourism industry needs to meet these aspects when producing tours or experiences based on Indigenous culture. Tours need to be run by indigenous people in order for them to be authentic because it is very hard for a non-indigenous person to run a tour based on Indigenous culture as they have no insight into the culture. Immense damage can be caused by misrepresentation and this is why Aboriginal organisations and elders should be consulted and included in negotiations (Tourism NSW). Also if Indigenous people participate it can help maintain the authenticity of the product and ensure accurate interpretation without jeopardising their beliefs and traditions (Tourism NSW). Tourist need to be aware that Indigenous people have their own priorities and perspectives. Therefore non Indigenous people need to be sensitive in order to avoid racial and cultural stereotyping.
These issues of authenticity and power reflect the contested nature of Australia’s history and portray unresolved conflicts between Indigenous people and government bodies. So for the tourism Industry the ‘ancient culture’ attracts tourists, while unresolved issues don’t (Hinkson, 2003). Aboriginal owned businesses contribute to Aboriginal communities by providing jobs, creativity, health and well being (Western Desert Mob , 2008). On the other hand souvenir shops do not provide any type of help for Aboriginal communities they are just looking at ways to make more money. For example one souvenir shop at The Rocks had a sale on Aboriginal objects. This depicts that they are only interested in making profits. Also the Indigenous operated businesses were only selling artworks unlike the souvenir stores who were selling a lot of stereotypical objects. Art centres have a positive impact on Indigenous tourism as they provide intergenerational learning of stories and culture and do so while sustaining Australia’s unique cultural heritage (Western Desert Mob , 2008). Therefore it is greatly seen that indigenous people choose to represent themselves differently to the way souvenir shops choose to represent Indigenous culture.
Lonely planet is one of the most significant books about Indigenous culture it provides a complete and convenient insight into the culture of the Indigenous people of Australia. It presents facts about Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait Islands including matters such as art, education, politics, history, health, people, sports, literature, food, language and spirituality (Lonely Planet, 2001). It is in fact useful to tourists as it provides information about how to be a responsible tourist; which includes information about permits, legal matters, internet resources, books, and what you should and should not do when experiencing Indigenous tourism (Lonely Planet, 2001). Lonely Planet is a guide providing a list of resources, places, sites and tours that could be undertaken by tourist. Also Lonely Planet depicts Indigenous tourism like a tour with different sites at different places but Indigenous tourism should be incorporated into all aspect of tourism experience it should not require its own industry. Not only is it a tour guide it is also an educational guide portraying information about Mabo and land rights, Aboriginal resistance and Indigenous gay issues (Lonely Planet, 2001). It is an insight into Indigenous culture and representing responsible tourism. Also if tourists are not educated they would not understand what they are seeing and hearing about Indigenous culture.
Another reason why Lonely Planet is significant is for the reason that many Indigenous people contributed to the guide making it a first hand insight into Indigenous culture (Lonely Planet, 2001). So it provides the truth about Indigenous culture and it only mentions Indigenously owned or operated tourism businesses; that way tourist are only exposed to authentic businesses rather than souvenir shops. This guide is a convenient resource for tourists visiting Australia but have doubts about its racist past and present racial inequities. Lonely Planet is the first guide that is actually dedicated to the roots and ancestors of the land which eliminates the usual stereotypes that follow Indigenous people (Lonely Planet, 2001). Therefore this guide provides readers with a better perceptive of Indigenous culture in Australia. Some tips that would result to responsible tourism and receiving the most out of Indigenous tourism include familiarising yourself with Indigenous history and traditional practices before gaining the experience (Department of Environment and Heritage , 2004). Other tips include asking for permission before taking photos or recording videos, dressing with modesty, acting naturally, and respecting privacy (Tourism Australia , 2007). Therefore Lonely Planet is an important guide as it allows the reader to learn about Indigenous culture and understand their experience with Indigenous culture from a deeper and more meaningful level.
Tourism introduces people to many people and their culture; tourist experience various cultural representation. Indigenous culture is one of the major cultures people like to experience when visiting Australia. In order for people to fulfil their Indigenous experience; representation needs to be correct otherwise people will be exposed to incorrect interpretations and this is what causes issues to arise. Interpretations throughout Sydney were both accurate and inaccurate; Indigenous operated or owned businesses represented accurate information whereas souvenir shops ignored accuracy in order to make money. The Lonely Planet Guide is a good start to providing accurate interpretations as it provided facts about many aspects of Indigenous culture. These facts are a good way for tourists to learn about Indigenous culture. Finally in order to achieve accurate representation Indigenous people need to be involved in the decision making process about Indigenous tourism without their input conflict will occur between Indigenous people and government bodies. Although Indigenous tourism will continue to grow and expand so will the issues. Indigenous tourism needs much needed attention for issues about authenticity and power to be eliminated or even reduced.