The Independent Indigenous Tourism Operators of Queensland (IITOQ) and Howard Smith Wharves (HSW) have officially launched a first-of-its-kind partnership to strengthen relationships and opportunities with Indigenous Australians across Queensland’s tourism and hospitality industries. The partnership was formalised at an intimate event under the banner of ‘Bridging Cultures: Queensland’s Tourism and Hospitality Opportunity’ with government, corporate and cultural leaders including IITOQ patron Uncle Eddie Ruska.
The event commenced with a Welcome To Country by Shanice Martin and a smoking ceremony from Beau Broome, followed by addresses from director and founding member of IITOQ Madonna Thomson, Patron and founding member of IITOQ Birrunga Wiraduyri, CEO of Howard Smith Wharves, Luke Fraser along with The Hon Kate Jones.
IITOQ is established upon the principles of self-determination and the empowerment of the Indigenous voice in the tourism industry within Queensland, nationally and internationally.Madonna Thomson, director and founding member IITOQ, emphasised the importance of this partnership in advancing their mission to incorporate Indigenous tourism created, “by us and not for or about us.” “Through working with Howard Smith Wharves, we will share information, trust and knowledge that complements our social responsibilities to our Country, community and history while supporting the empowerment of Indigenous Cultural Practitioners.” Howard Smith Wharves CEO Luke Fraser expressed his sincere gratitude for those at the launch representing government and industry leaders, as he seeks to further incorporate meaningful cultural awareness at the riverfront precinct. “This partnership is the culmination of a personal and professional relationship that we have built over the past few years,” he said.
“We are strongly aligned on our values, especially in regards to our vision for the future of tourism and hospitality across Australia, one that amplifies First Nations Australians.“I first met Birrunga on stage as a winner of our Packers Prize Award at the Brisbane Portrait Prize and through a mutual friend.
“We started having conversations about engaging with the First Nations Communities across the city and state.
“We shared the same outlook that First Nations Australians must be able to lead the way when it comes to their own business especially when it comes to tourism and hospitality that are built on showcasing culture, telling stories and building connections.“We all have a social and economic responsibility to learn, engage, acknowledge and respect the First Nations culture, stories, and knowledge that has shaped our city.” Together, IITOQ and Howard Smith Wharves along with K&L Gates who are also partners, are poised to be a catalyst for positive change, embarking on a journey of knowledge sharing and cultural enrichment, strengthening First Nations participation and leadership in the tourism sector and labour market across Queensland. They strive to make a lasting impact on employees, businesses, and visitors alike.
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