Journal of Tourism & Hospitality

Journal of Tourism & Hospitality
Open Access

ISSN: 2167-0269

+44 1300 500008


Real (or) Staged? Authenticity and Cultural Portrayal in Indigenous Tourism

Kithiia J and Reilly S

This study examined the perceptions of authenticity in cultural portrayals by both visitors and indigenous tourism operators in Far North Queensland. Surveys were administered over a two week period to indigenous tour operators and visitors at six locations throughout the region. The results showed that tourists place a high value on authenticity and the majority of them who had participated in an indigenous experience were satisfied with its level of authenticity. The study further found that the use of theatrical effects in cultural presentations was viewed negatively by tourists. A few indigenous tour operators were found to place a higher premium on maintaining the pride of their community’s cultural values, rather than work collaboratively with external corporations to provide titillating, but barely authentic, tourism experiences. The overwhelming consensus from all those interviewed was that, players in the indigenous tourism market are still grappling with how they could appeal to a broad range of tourists without losing authenticity in their presentation of culture. The solution is likely to be found in local capacity building and multi-stakeholder engagement, not least the involvement of governing authorities and the mainstream tourism sector.