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Harvey Aboriginal Corporation celebrates “magical” World Indigenous Tourism Summit experience in Perth

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Kenny Wallam, elder Carol Vitale, emerging elder Brad Vitale, Tourism Minister Roger Cook, Emily Comito, emerging elder Ninnette Comito, and elder Lesley Ugle at the World Indigenous Tourism Summit.
Camera IconKenny Wallam, elder Carol Vitale, emerging elder Brad Vitale, Tourism Minister Roger Cook, Emily Comito, emerging elder Ninnette Comito, and elder Lesley Ugle at the World Indigenous Tourism Summit. Credit: Supplied

A group of Harvey and Waroona locals were “honoured” to take part in the 2023 World Indigenous Tourism Summit earlier this month, calling it an experience they will “treasure for years to come”.

Held in Perth, the summit involved more than 550 delegates, 15 per cent of whom were from overseas, taking part in 47 sessions over four days.

First held in New Zealand back in 2018, this year’s event was hosted by the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators’ Council and focused on the theme of Tourism and Indigenous Earth Wisdom: Weaving the Future that Benefits All.

Delegates heard from local and international leaders about the challenges facing Indigenous peoples and some of the ways tourism can create positive outcomes.

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Harvey Aboriginal Corporation member Brad Vitale said it was an absolute honour and privilege to attend the event,

“This experience is one that our delegates will treasure for years to come,” he said.

“To be united in the same place at the same time with Indigenous peoples from across the globe discussing matters not only relating to tourism, but issues which affect all people across all lands was awe-inspiring and life changing.”

Mr Vitale described the summit as “magical”, with every lesson and speaker providing tips and tricks to improve Indigenous tourism, particularly with sustainability.

“Speakers included those working directly in preserving, protecting and sharing cultural knowledge and sites, and how they are contributing to protecting the environment including in the face of climate change.”

Some of the Corporation’s favourite speakers during WITS included Canadian speaker and Squamish Nation Hereditary Chief Ian Campbell, Swedish nature camp operator and Sami man Lennart Pittja, and American chef and Ogala Lakota tribe member Sean Sherman.

The delegates also met Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada board member Frank Antoine, who was described by Mr Vitale as being “incredibly humble and knowledgeable”.

Among the key takeaways from the event he said was there may be many Indigenous peoples, but they are “one family”.

“Although we are geographically separated, we are spiritually and culturally united and connected,” Mr Vitale said.

“We have similar histories, traumas, celebrations, experiences, hopes and dreams, as well as similar opportunities and challenges.

“WITS has provided Indigenous people around the world who are often segregated and disempowered, to come together, engage and unite.”

Mr Vitale said the delegates has returned inspired and invigorated, and the summit had reassured the Corporation of its journey to building a strong community in which Aboriginal peoples, culture and knowledge are recognised, respected, celebrated and valued.

The local delegates were supported by the Department of Biodiversity, Culture and Attractions, and Water Corporation to attend the summit.

The next event will be held in Taiwan in 2024.

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