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The Coorong Wilderness Lodge: A case study of planning failures in Indigenous tourism
Published Date October 2014, Vol.44:46–57,doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2014.02.003 Author
Freya Higgins-Desbiolles a,,
George Trevorrow b
Syd Sparrow c
aSchool of Management, University of South Australia, Australia
bCoorong Wilderness Lodge, Australia
cDavid Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research, University of South Australia, Australia
Received 23 October 2013. Accepted 13 February 2014. Available online 12 March 2014.
Case analysis of policy process for infrastructure development of an Indigenous tourism business.
Rare emic view as a result of having Indigenous Australian tourism entrepreneur as a co-researcher.
Social construction theory shows dissonant narratives as 1 source of policy failure.
Need creative and dialogic cross-cultural management approaches.
This paper presents a case study of the Coorong Wilderness Lodge (CWL) in order to highlight barriers to success that are in part derived from poor policy and planning supports for Indigenous Australian tourism operators. This analysis assists in filling a research gap on the catalysts to economic success and failure in Indigenous tourism through obtaining rich narratives from public sector facilitators and the Indigenous Australian tourism entrepreneur. Using social construction theory, this paper narrates the story of difficulties in developing the infrastructure between 1995 and 2008. This story highlights diverging views of how such enterprises should be supported which is in part explained by cultural differences, diverging expectations and poor communications across such divides. With the founder of the CWL George Trevorrow as a co-researcher in the project, the paper provides an emic perspective that offers fresh insights into this topic.
Indigenous tourism/Aboriginal tourism
Public sector support
Culture versus commerce
Social construction theory
Freya Higgins-Desbiolles is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism with the School of Management of the University of South Australia. She has researched and taught Indigenous tourism and tourism policy, planning and management for more than a decade. This work has been based on long-term collaborative relationships with communities. As a result of the positive outcomes from these extended efforts, she has received numerous awards for teaching, research and community engagement.
George Trevorrow was the founder/owner/manager of the Coorong Wilderness Lodge in South Australia. He was a Ngarrindjeri Elder who was well-respected for his role in the development of Indigenous Australian tourism. In the early 1990s he initially served as the Chairman of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Reference Group and then became the first elected Chairman of the fledgling Aboriginal Tourism Operators Association. Additionally, George was recognised for his leadership role in the Ngarrindjeri community and was a respected cultural educator. He founded Camp Coorong Race Relations and Cultural Education Centre and served as Rupelle of the Ngarrindjeri Tendi and Chair of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority.
Syd Sparrow is a lecturer in The David Unaipon School which is a part of The David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research. He has been with the school since 2000, after spending twenty years working within Aboriginal Affairs in community managed organisations in Australia.