Training gives Indigenous people a pathway into tourism

First Nations cultures are a unique drawcard for Australian tourism. 

Before the pandemic, interest in Indigenous tourism experiences was growing strongly. According to Tourism Research Australia, 2.5 million Australian and international visitors took part in an Indigenous tourism experience in 2019. This was a 42% increase over 2013.

The national long-term THRIVE 2030 Strategy prioritises First Nations participation in the visitor economy. To achieve this, the sector needs more Indigenous-owned businesses and more trained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.

Working in tourism can help First Nations people to stay on country and earn an income while sharing their culture and traditions. Visitors benefit from authentic immersive experiences they cannot get anywhere else in the world.

These organisations are working to attract, train and retain First Nations people in the visitor economy.

NITA: Changing lives by empowering First Nations people

On the lands of the Anangu lies the National Indigenous Training Academy (NITA). NITA has been helping young Indigenous Australians forge careers in tourism and hospitality since 2011.

Both NITA and the Ayers Rock Resort are divisions of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia (Voyages). Trainees gain valuable practical experience while doing an accredited course in tourism and hospitality, retail, or landscaping.

First Nations people come from all over Australia to train at NITA. The Academy has focused on building relationships with the local Indigenous community. It aims to attract more Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara into its courses.

Expanding into new territory

Voyages also opened a training site at Mossman Gorge on Kuku Yalanji country in 2011.

The Mossman Gorge site gives Kuku Yalanji people the opportunity to train in tourism and hospitality while gaining practical experience. Tourism trainees work as tour guides, conducting Dreamtime walks, tea ceremonies and Welcome to Country.

Hospitality trainees gain on-the-job experience in the area’s leading resorts and hotels.

Transitioning into employment

To date, 610 First Nations people have graduated from NITA’s courses. They have transitioned into the visitor economy workforce.

Once trainees have graduated, both sites provide employment opportunities. The Ayers Rock Resort is one of Australia’s largest employers of Indigenous hospitality staff.

In fact, NITA reached a special milestone in 2022. Four of its first graduates celebrated 10 years of working at the Ayers Rock Resort.

NITA graduates have also gained employment in NITA and Voyages itself.

Accor: Supporting First Nations talent

Hotel chain Accor is committed to cultural tourism and Indigenous careers.

It introduced an Indigenous Employment Strategy in 2001. The program aims to increase engagement and employment for talented individuals in Australia’s Indigenous communities.

The program ramped up in 2015, when Accor received Government assistance to support pathways to employment for Indigenous Australians.

Today, First Nations people make up nearly 4% of the workforce across Accor’s hotel network. Almost a third of them are under 25, and more than two-thirds are women.

Building relationships with Indigenous communities

Accor’s specialist Indigenous recruitment team works to build strong relationships with local Indigenous communities. This ensures potential talent is aware of the career opportunities Accor offers.

Accor’s Indigenous Careers Program is a 4-day learn, train and trial program. It introduces prospective employees to the organisation and the industry.

Once employed, Indigenous staff can benefit from a full suite of training and development opportunities. They include mentoring, industry certification and leadership development training.

In its most recent Leadership Development Programs, Indigenous team members made up 15% of leadership training participants. Accor has appointed 2 Indigenous hotel general managers since 2016.

Learn more about the priority to grow a secure and resilient workforce at THRIVE 2030 Strategy.