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'A beacon of inspiration': Tributes flow for pillar of Indigenous tourism, Ben Sherman

David Prestipino -

The passing of global Indigenous tourism icon Ben Sherman was a severe loss for the industry but his legacy would continue for generations to come worldwide.

Mr Sherman, the esteemed chairman of the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA), championed initiatives to preserve Indigenous cultures, empower local communities and promote responsible tourism practices in countries across the globe.

Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council CEO and WINTA secretariat Robert Taylor said Mr Sherman was not only a world leader in First Nations tourism, but a beacon of inspiration for Indigenous communities worldwide.

"His vision, compassion and advocacy have propelled Indigenous tourism to new heights, fostering cultural exchange, economic empowerment and sustainable development," Mr Taylor said.

"His leadership was instrumental to strengthening partnerships between Indigenous communities and governments, as well as the private sector, and fostered collaboration and mutual respect."

WINTA not long ago mourned the loss of its secretariat, Johnny Edmonds, and now the visionary leader and founding member of the alliance in Mr Sherman.

"It is with heavy hearts that WINTA announces the passing of our esteemed Chairman, Ben Sherman," Mr Taylor said.

"His passing is a loss to WINTA, the Indigenous tourism community, and the broader global tourism landscape.

"His leadership and advocacy for Indigenous cultures have left an enduring legacy that will inspire future generations.

"As we mourn his passing, let us celebrate his remarkable contributions and commit ourselves to his vision of a more inclusive and sustainable tourism industry.

"A visionary leader and founding member of WINTA, Mr Sherman's legacy in Indigenous tourism reverberates globally, and his absence will be profoundly felt both within our alliance and throughout the Indigenous tourism community."

Instrumental in connecting WINTA to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Mr Sherman - a founding board member and chairman of WINTA - was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, hailing from the Oglala Lakota Tribal Nation.

WINTA vice chair Frank Antoine said he was indelible in the industry through his tireless dedication and unwavering commitment to advancing Indigenous tourism initiatives.

"Ben's passing is a profound loss for the Indigenous tourism community," he said.

"His legacy will endure through the countless lives he touched, and the enduring impact of his work."

WINTA extended its deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues and said it would honour his memory by continuing to uphold the values and principles he helped champion.

"We will strive to fulfil his vision of a world where Indigenous peoples contribute through tourism, to a world where people live in harmony with each other, and the environment around them," it said.

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