Judy Bennett and Willie Gordon, Social Capital and the Indigenous Entrepreneur

SUCCESSIVE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS, AT BOTH STATE AND FEDERAL levels, have been challenged for nearly thirty years by the lack of Aboriginal participation in the tourism industry. Yet, despite the articulated desire to encourage Indigenous entrepreneurship, Indigenous participation in Australia’s tourism industry has been ‘sporadic, small-scale and largely indirect’ (Altman 1993, p.2), and most Indigenous tourism enterprises do not progress past the planning stage (ATSIC 1997). In 1997 it was estimated that there were only 200 Indigenous-owned tour operations in the country, many of which were fragile in terms of long-term sustainability (ibid.); and in 2001, out of 250 tour operations in New South Wales offering an Aboriginal product, only 39 were Aboriginal-owned (ATA undated).

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