Travel experiences created by Indigenous communities around the world allow visitors to learn more about their culture and history.

The new tourism initiatives allow Indigenous peoples to create impactful experiences that help to preserve their culture and educate visitors.

Travelers interested in more diverse and intentional travel experiences should look for opportunities led by people of that culture. It will enrich the life of the traveler and help with the fight for Indigenous self-determination.

The rise of Indigenous-led tourism experiences

The businesses that lead the charge are owned or led by members of the Indigenous community. The experiences are more authentic and give back to the community.

The interest in Indigenous culture and communities has been going on for a long time. Tourism experiences in Indigenous communities have been going on for hundreds of years. These experiences were often exploitative, appropriative or destructive.

The "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" show of the late 1800s and the existence of so-called ethnological exhibitions or human zoos perpetuated racist stereotypes.

The popular Ayahuasca tours in South America are examples of companies that exploit Indigenous communities and religious practices for tourist dollars.

Most Indigenous-led tourism experiences aim to use tourism as a vehicle for cultural preservation. Hundreds of such businesses have arisen around the world in the last 10 years, and several tourism organizations have formed to help them succeed.

What types of experiences are available?

Arctic Bay Adventures is an Inuit-owned company that offers polar treks in Nunavut. ARCTIC BAY ADVENTURE/FACEBOOK

The diversity of Indigenous communities in the Americas and around the world is reflected in the Indigenous tourism experiences.

You can sign up for our newsletter.

The chief executive officer of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association said that there is no such thing as a single Indian country.

There is no one type of activity that makes a tourism experience more or less Indigenous. The experiences are unique to the communities. Diverse experiences, locations and cultures are found within Indigenous communities.

Every type of traveler can take part in an Indigenous-led activity or experience.

An Inuit-owned and -operated company that runs polar expeditions in Canda's rural Nunavut province is a good place for adventure travelers to go.

The Wukalina Walk is an award winning hiking experience that is guided by the Palawa community. Wukalina, also known as Mt William National Park, is a place where visitors can learn more about the land, the Palawa community and the culture.

The band of Cahuilla Indians is opening a multimillion dollar cultural plaza in the middle of downtown Palm Springs, California.

We are modern, traditional, urban, and remote. The president and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada said that people don't realize that many of their images come from movies.

Why supporting these businesses matters

Yurok guides Zechariah Gabel, Sammy Gensaw and Jon-Luke Gensaw from Redwood Yurok Canoe Tours in California paddle tourists along the Klamath River in traditional canoes handcrafted from Redwood trees. ROBERT GAUTHIER/LOS ANGELES TIMES/GETTY IMAGES

The results of an economic impact study of tourism in Indigenous communities in the U.S. were released in 2020.

It's important that jobs are created in rural areas, where jobs are often very limited. A large amount of jobs are created by tourism in the local economy. This isn't the most important factor when it comes to Indigenous experiences.

The tourism industry supports cultural workers as they share their culture and traditions. Culture can be passed down from generation to generation and shared with visitors if the tribe supports cultural training programs.

The educational opportunities inherent in taking part in these kinds of tourism experiences allow Indigenous peoples to share their own stories with tourists. Much of what we know about Indigenous peoples around the world is wrong.

Travelers gain a better understanding of these communities and their culture by taking part in these Indigenous-led experiences.

How to find an Indigenous tourism experience

Phil Lockyer is the head of Indigenous Affairs at Australia Tourism. Not just travelers, but partners and distribution as well, don't know how to access them effectively.

How do you findIndigenous travel experiences?

If you're looking for an Indigenous tourism experience, make sure you find one that's led by Indigenous people. This makes sure that the information you're receiving is accurate and that the experience is beneficial to that community.

Most businesses that are run by Indigenous peoples will mention it on their websites. Businesses that are associated with a specific tribe or community are more likely to be found. There are organizations that work with Indigenous people to help grow and market tourism businesses in Indigenous communities.

The websites hosted by these organizations make it easier to find experiences that are owned or led by Indigenous entrepreneurs. Native American Travel is a website that helps people find authentic Indigenous travel experiences in the US, including in Alaska and Hawaii.

ITAC works with a number of other Indigenous tourism organizations that are organized by the provinces.

Visitors can explore options to connect with Indigenous tourism businesses on Australia Tourism's website.

Most of the Indigenous-led travel experiences in Latin America are easy to find by searching for them on the internet.

Not all tourism businesses that focus on Indigenous cultures and people are Indigenous-led. Many companies will offer Indigenous experiences and possibly even hire a few members of an Indigenous community to lend credibility to something that isn't necessarily helpful or respectful to the group at large.

To avoid doing more harm than good, it's best to steer clear of anything that seems to allow unfettered access to sacred sites, such as climbing Uluru in Australia.

Henry said thatIndigenous perspective isn't driven by economics. The greatest benefit has been in our communities.