AAT Kings, in collaboration with the #EmptyEsky movement and regional tourism businesses, is bringing back the Bushfire Relief Giveback Experiences.
The trips are designed to help support communities directly affected by 2020’s devastating bushfires, and now doubly impacted by COVID-19.
On Friday 28 May, ‘Discover Gippsland’ will be the first trip to run since the pandemic and will relaunch the #EmptyEsky series.
The experiences have been developed in conjunction with local communities, with AAT Kings transporting guests and their empty esky to visit local markets, cafés and stores; with free time to wander through the towns, spend with the local shopkeepers and fill their esky or reusable bag with locally-made products.
Guests will also meet some of the locals who will tell stories of recovery and share firsthand how best to help these destinations.
With a Friday pick-up in Melbourne, guests on the three-day Discover Gippsland tour will stay at The Esplanade Resort & Spa in Lakes Entrance, visit towns such as Bairnsdale and Paynesville, and even do a bit of koala spotting on Raymond Island.
The trip will also see guests visit the largest cave system in Victoria at Buchan Caves, meet the husband-and-wife team behind David Lucke’s Fresh Food Market, enjoy a meal at farm-to-plate café of The Long Paddock in Lindenow, and partake in an indulgent wine tasting at Lightfoot & Sons.
Matt Fuller, chief executive at AAT Kings Group, said: “Having worked with Australian tourism operators for over 100 years, we live and breathe these communities – they have taken a hard hit and need us now more than ever.
“We’ve worked with local businesses to bring much-needed tourism economy directly back to restaurants, cafés, farmers markets and local stores to help start providing immediate support to the regions that need it the most.”
Erin Boutros, co-founder of Empty Esky, said: “After a tough year for these regions, we are so excited to bring back to life our partnership with AAT Kings and offer our community the opportunity to put their pledges into action by visiting these heavily affected towns.
“We have witnessed firsthand how powerful the Australian spirit is. The Empty Esky trips will lead the way in effectively supporting their road to recovery.”
AAT Kings is set to announce more #EmptyEsky trips throughout NSW and South Australia.