Things are looking grim in Australia at the moment with talks of a second wave hitting Melbourne in the state of Victoria and Sydney being on high alert in NSW.
It’s taking a toll on a lot of people, not just a financial toll but also, and perhaps in an even more disconcerting way, an emotional toll.
Several of my friends in the travel industry have been hit hard as Australia is not planning to re-open its international borders anytime soon and Qantas had to cut 6000 jobs in the last couple of weeks… not to mention that they’ve removed all the international flights (except Trans-Tasman) from their website until the 28th of March 2021, in a move that makes everyone shake their heads in fear of ominous developments.
Bad news all around us, it seems.
That’s why this morning I welcomed with a cheer the announcement that Intrepid Travel has been officially endorsed by Reconciliation Australia.
If you haven’t read about it yet I urge you to head over to their website and check it out.
It’s a fantastic initiative that promotes a much needed restructuring and re-thinking of the Australian travel industry in relation to their First Nations Partners.
Let me give you an example.
The majority of you will have heard of and even visited Uluru.
Yes, I’m talking about that gorgeous sandstone rock formation in the southern end of the Northern Territory, in the middle of what we call The Red Centre.
Many of you (hopefully) will know that Uluru is a sacred site for the Pitjantjatjara Anangu, the Aboriginal people that live in the Central Australian Desert.
A few of you will remember the struggle the Pitjantjatjara Anangu went through before finally being recognised as the rightful owners of Uluru and Kata Tjuta back in 1985.
During the years, Uluru has become one of the most iconic tourist spots in our country while several measures have been implemented to ensure a respectful access to the sacred site.
Reconciliation Australia, founded in 2001, has been growing exponentially in the last two decades and its mission is “about strengthening relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians.”(reconciliation.org.au).
Intrepid Travel joined the Reconciliation movement last year and thanks to the co-operation of First Nations consultants and travel and community experts, has come to the release of the Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) that sees the integration of more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tours into their catalogue.
But RAP isn’t stopping at that, it’s also encouraging First Nations Peoples to pursue a career in sustainable tourism by offering them a number of internships and giving more exposure to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bloggers and storytellers through the Intrepid media network.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit both the Uluru and Kata Tjuta area and the Kakadu National Park while filming for a tv-show a few years ago and I can’t stress enough how fundamental my interaction with the First Nations Peoples was in making my experience unforgettable.
I praise Intrepid for not giving up to the inaction many of us feel like slipping into when confronted with the doom and gloom of local and international media.
I don’t know when things will start to get better, but I do know that if we believe we’re going to need a new approach to the world of travel and, more in general, of human interactions, we need to start building the path that leads to it right now.