Indigenous Peoples & Tourism

Across the world, different terms are used with reference to indigenous peoples: Aboriginals, First Nations and Native etc. These names stand for groups of people who originally populated certain parts of the world, now often marginalised by nation states. ‘Indigenous Tourism’ – often subsumed within ‘cultural tourism’ – is a term that has gained currency in recent years. The ‘off the beaten path’ trails once reserved for specialists have now become a ‘well-worn path’ for millions of tourists searching for an ‘authentic’ experience. This can be positive: it can assist cultural revitalisation and be a force for empowerment. On the other hand, it may see the often marginalised people and their villages becoming mere showcases for tourists, their culture reduced to souvenirs for sale, an environment to be photographed and left without real engagement.

There is a whole spectrum of ways in which people can be involved in indigenous tourism: from being part of a ‘human zoo’, performing for the benefit of visitors, to something more creditable where they are in greater control of what is on offer. We would like to see Indigenous peoples being in a position to have a free, prior and informed choice regarding their involvement in the industry and for tour operators and travellers alike to make choices of who to visit based on this premise. We hope and aim for this kind of tourism to be an equitable cultural exchange. 


We are working on a briefing that will highlight the different concerns within the field as well as showcase some best practice in the industry.

Code of Conduct

We are developing a code of conduct for Tour Operators and Travellers to follow when working with Indigenous people. More soon….

The launch of the Indigenous People and Tourism Report will be on the 26th January 2017, Venue TBC

About the author

Helen Jennings

Helen has studied at the Universities of Goldsmiths, Kent, Jyvaskyla (Finland) and The Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø) where she obtained a MA in Indigenous Studies. She has travelled extensively and has lived and worked in Canada, Scandinavia, and South America. Helen is particularly interested in cultural, indigenous, and spiritual tourism, ideas behind sensible ‘regulation’ and is convinced of the value of ethical and sustainable tourism.

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