Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia CEO, Matthew Cameron-Smith

You’ve been passionate about Australia for your whole career. What does it mean to you to now be working to drive one of Australia’s leaders in Indigenous tourism experiences?

Indigenous Tourism is a way to be immersed in the culture and nature of a country and to be driving one of Australia’s leaders in indigenous tourism experiences is indeed an honour.

I wake up each morning, feeling invigorated and excited to have one of the most celebrated positions in Australia, operating in some of Australia’s most sensitive ecosystems and culturally significant locations. 

My challenge is to look for ways and opportunities to build on the reputation that Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia has established in the industry and how we can create more of these great experiences and celebrate the diversity and richness of our indigenous culture in Australia – the world’s oldest living culture.

The redesigned Terrace rooms at Sails in the Desert opened on 1 August.

The hotel industry isn’t new to you. How does it feel being back in the accommodation sector after years in destination marketing and guided holidays?

The industry has changed significantly – particularly at the moment! Being back in the hotel industry puts me at the ‘coal face’ again of finding new and innovative ways to provide exceptional service, an exceptional product and an exceptional experience with the aim of fulfilling guests’ travel dreams. 

I’m passionate about making a difference to people’s lives and feel privileged to be at the helm of Voyages, working with an incredible team with a like-minded goal of showcasing Indigenous Australia and providing visitors enriching experiences whilst supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through employment, development, and business opportunities in tourism.

The popular Sounds of Silence experience at Voyages Ayers Rock Resort.

What are some of the exciting changes and innovations you plan on introducing at Voyages?

In addition to constantly evolving our current guest experiences, we are working on a game changing product at Ayers Rock Resort which will tap into culture, technology and passion points. The new concept will include interpretive art and design to help further connect visitors with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

What upgrades have been rolled out at Voyages’ resorts for guests to enjoy now that flights are resuming?

During the closure of Ayers Rock Resort through the COVID-19 pandemic, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia took the opportunity to bring forward its $50 million plan for an extensive refurbishment of the property as well as upgrades to nearby airport infrastructure, including new screening areas for enhanced security.

The refurbishment encompasses extensive upgrades at the five-star Sails in the Desert seeing improved guest rooms and suites alongside an upgraded lobby, swimming pool and restaurant. Further upgrades were completed at the The Lost Camel, as well as the much needed replacement of toilet blocks and bathrooms in the campground.

Matthew Cameron-Smith with his predecessor, Grant Hunt AM

How important is it that Australians take the opportunity to engage with Indigenous history and culture while borders remain closed?

Exploring an indigenous culture opens you up to learn a different point of view, other solutions, new wisdom, and helps you to connect and have empathy. When you understand a bit about someone’s culture it is much easier to relate to the history and stories of that culture.

For many Australians, learning about a new culture means going overseas and exploring other lands and cultures, but with the closure of the borders, it presents an incredible opportunity to engage with and learn about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right on our doorstep.

All Australians can take this opportunity to learn about the true history of Australia – all that history books and lessons struggle to capture or convey, and with the largest Aboriginal population in the country, the NT is the perfect place to start. It is a story telling culture and the best way to experience it is in person.

The Terrace balcony at Sails in the Desert.

What unique elements can the modern Voyages experience add to conferences, events and meetings.

More than just a destination, Uluru is a world class venue and the perfect place for an inspired team meeting, conference or event.

Ayers Rock Resort’s diverse selection of purpose-built function spaces and unique outdoor settings marry your practical needs with this desert location’s incredible ability to inspire. The conference centre (Uluru Meeting Place) features a large exhibition space and ballroom, three breakout rooms, a small function area, secretariat room and pre-function space. The resort can cater from small groups of ten all the way up to large function of 500 delegates. There’s room in the desert for everyone!

The resort offers the incredible opportunity to introduce your delegates to one of the world’s oldest living cultural landscapes, where you are invited to see, feel and connect with the land around you. Dinner becomes an award-winning feast under a star-filled desert sky and team-building ignites a new passion for this enigmatic land and its people.

With over 101 tours and experiences, it is easy to organise a touring schedule to suit any delegation. Choose from the most popular Indigenous experiences, which offer insights into the traditional skills, ancient stories and day to day life of the Anangu people, or take a sunrise or sunset tour for that maximum impact, unforgettable moment. Or, why not add in an experience by camel, anything is possible. Activities and experiences can be adapted to suit a variety of budgets, group sizes and schedules.