Richard Mackay was the Australian delegate at a recent cultural tourism workshop hosted in Pedang, Sumatra, by the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is an international organisation comprising 20 coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean, which seeks to promote regional co-operation in government, business and academia. IORA focuses particularly on trade facilitation, investment, promotion and social development.
The Chair of IORA recently passed from Australia to Indonesia and the cultural tourism workshop was convened by Indonesia to consider how member nations may share information and otherwise foster this fast-growing area of tourist activity in the region.
Participants in the workshop included delegates from Bangladesh, India, Iran, Indonesia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Thailand. One highlight of the event was a visit to Sinjunjung; a Sumatran village with distinctive timber architecture and continuing traditional culture, which has been nominated to the World Heritage List. Workshop delegates were treated to a civic reception, village tour, cultural performances and splendid local cuisine.
As the Australian delegate, Richard presented the ‘Angkor Tourism Management Plan’, focusing particularly on how cultural tourism can provide benefits to local communities, by creating sustainable livelihoods and connecting local people directly with the economic benefits that flow from tourism. The Angkor work was undertaken by GML Heritage for UNESCO and the Royal Government of Cambodia with support from the Australian Government.
The IORA cultural tourism workshop recognised that in some countries like Australia and Thailand, there is already a vibrant cultural tourism industry, while other nations like Seychelles and Mauritius have wonderful and unique experiences to offer. The workshop identified opportunities for facilitating cultural tourism in the region through shared experience and both research and ‘hands-on’ programs.