A Broome-based tourism business has been given a chance to showcase Broome to the rest of Australia.
Narlija Cultural Tours will be one of 10 WA Aboriginal tourism businesses to be featured in the latest series of Destination WA.
The television series is part of the Aboriginal Tourism Development Program, a State Government initiative managed by Tourism WA and delivered by the WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council.
The scheme allows the businesses to be given a spotlight not just to the rest of WA, but on a national scale.
Narlija Cultural Tours owner Bart Pigram said he felt privileged to be among the indigenous operators being featured.
“(The other operators) are more experienced and have succeeded in the tourism industry longer than me,” he said.
“I am still learning the ropes and following their lead.”
Narlija, meaning “true for you” in Yawuru, has been in business since 2015 after Mr Pigram gave Broome visitors impromptu cultural tours. Mr Pigram, being part of the large Pigram-Puertollano family, wanted to use his vast knowledge of Aboriginal history and culture to contribute to the growing Aboriginal tourism market.
Mr Pigram said it was definitely heartening to see his company being recognised for its contribution to tourism in Western Australia.
“I’m sure the other businesses would agree that our operations aren’t just to make a living,” he said.
“It is also aligned to our living culture and heritage.”
“We visit our significant sites, speak our language, eat our traditional foods and it provides an income.
“What better way to walk in two worlds with a strong sense of self-determination?”
WAITOC chief executive Robert Taylor said the Aboriginal Tourism Development Program was of great importance to preserve Aboriginal culture.
“Aboriginal culture is the oldest living culture in the world and we should be celebrating that culture and supporting its people as they do not have generational wealth to fall back on,” he said.
“This program is a way that they can learn how to share their culture to make a sustainable business that will, hopefully, be passed on to other generations.”
Mr Taylor also believes the scheme is part of the ongoing reconciliation process between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
“The sharing of culture to visitors is a healing process for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people,” he said.
“While this is keeping the Aboriginal culture alive, it is also teaching the visitors that Australia was populated before colonisation and that the way of living may have been different but survival in such an arid country was a skill that the Aboriginal people had passed on for generations and still do today.”
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said Western Australia offered some of the best Aboriginal experiences in the country.
“Aboriginal tourism helps protect and preserve traditional culture and creates jobs within communities,” he said.
“It’s great to see so many businesses in this growing sector promoted through Destination WA, thanks to support from WAITOC and Tourism WA.”
Narlija Cultural Tours owner Bart Pigram at one of his tour locations, the Kennedy Shell Midden site.