The first not-for-profit online marketplace for Indigenous Australian tourism experiences and products is launching early next month.
Welcome to Country launches on 2 December with a free virtual event directed by Rhoda Roberts, a board member of the organisation and an Aboriginal arts leader.
The official launch ceremony will be followed by 17 online cultural, art and travel events that will run over six days from 3 December to 8 December, highlighting unique and new experiences from adventure to cultural immersion.
Featuring conversations addressing academia, sport, traditional knowledge systems, biodiversity, cultural ecology and renewal and healing, they will include discussions with: Bruce Pascoe, an historian and award-winning writer of the bestseller Dark Emu; Joe Williams, an Aboriginal boxer and former NRL player; Professor Marcia Langton, an academic and author of Welcome to Country, a travel guide to Indigenous Australia; and Victor Steffensen, an Indigenous land management and traditional fire practice expert.
Welcome to Country’s main objective is to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tourism operators and communities by creating sustainable, economic and wellbeing outcomes through tourism and products.
It is backed by Indigenous Capital Limited, a foundation started by technology entrepreneur, and start-up and social enterprise investor Roger Allen.
Former Australian Tourism CEO and Welcome to Country board member John Morse said 6.4 million trips were taken offshore by Australians in 2019; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Australians were currently planning where they want to holiday in Australia this summer and beyond.
“All Australians should be proud to live in a country with a culture which is in the truest sense of the word, unique,” Morse said.
“At Welcome to Country, we want to encourage and assist local and international travellers, when they return to our shores, to explore aspects of Australia they may not have experienced before, to give them a true historic and authentic cultural connection.
“They can do that through Welcome to Country’s easy-to-use, single booking platform.”
Jason Eades, CEO of Welcome to Country, said the response has been good so far.
“We already have 87 exceptional immersive experiences, including Indigenous art, cultural performances and talks, food gathering, dining and wine tasting activities, as well as adventures, including epic walks, quad bikes and scuba diving, as well as sharing stories around campfires,” Eades said.
“We also offer more than 1,000 beautifully and authentically crafted Aboriginal and Torres Strait products on our website. Every purchase made through welcometocountry.com supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”
In order to watch the Welcome to Country events online, pre-register before 1 December 2020 HERE.