New Aboriginal Experiences Marketplace Welcome to Country Launches in the NT
Revolutionary new Australian Aboriginal tourism initiative Welcome to Country has launched its first phase in the Northern Territory today, offering visitors and residents an online marketplace of ready-to-book Aboriginal experiences. Welcome to Country is a not for profit organisation set up to generate real economic benefit as well as social and cultural change for Aboriginal communities.
Designed to be accessible, engaging and easy to use, the marketplace at www.welcometocountry.com allows travellers and locals the chance to search and book experiences, from one-day special interest cultural tours including basket weaving, painting and walks to longer journeys on Country.
The idea for the marketplace came from Roger Allen AM, a philanthropist with a passion for working with early-stage Indigenous businesses. Mr Allen said he was excited to see the realisation of a long-held ambition to make the range of Aboriginal tourism experiences more readily accessible to travellers from Australia and overseas, as well as residents keen to know more about their local history.
“My primary motivation over the past decade has been to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities gain self-sufficiency and self-determination by starting and growing their own businesses. Welcome to Country is that vehicle,” Mr Allen said. “Rather than focusing on a single business, I wanted to find a way to help many and grow the entire sector”.
Welcome to Country is led by Chief Executive Officer and Aboriginal man Jason Eades. The Board of Directors includes Mr Allen and Mr Eades along with former Tourism Australia Managing Director John Morse AM and Rhoda Roberts AO, Head of First Nations Programming at Sydney Opera House.
Jason Eades said the newly created Welcome to Country team was made up of a small group of professionals who have been dedicated to the sustainable development of Aboriginal tourism for years.
“Watching the marketplace come to life and seeing so many incredible Aboriginal experiences gathered together in one space is nothing short of thrilling. We’re hoping it will change the way people travel and experience Australia, while at the same time supporting Aboriginal communities for generations to come,” Mr Eades said.
Northern Territory Indigenous Tours Managing Director Tess Atie is one of the first operators to feature its Aboriginal tours on the marketplace.
“We are excited to expand our business through Welcome to Country and to be working as part of a supportive community,” Ms Atie said.
Welcome to Country’s Northern Territory launch phase will be followed by a national rollout of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences across Australia in 2020.
Welcome to Country acknowledges its generous supporters, Roger Allen and his wife Maggie Gray’s foundation known as Indigenous Capital Limited, together with an anonymous philanthropic family has provided seed funding for the project. Indigenous Capital Limited continues to provide funding and mentoring support to the initiative. Social enterprise venture capital provider First Australians Capital initially seed-funded, developed and provided leadership for the project over a two-year period until it was ready to be established as a stand-alone entity. Westpac Innovation has supported the start-up phase with strategy, consultation, and resources.
Welcome to Country Limited is a not for profit organisation which has been established with a vision in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are empowered to create economic and well-being outcomes. The organisation has launched an online marketplace that connects travellers with exceptional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences.