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19 November 2020

Welcome to Country National Launch

Welcome to Country

NEWS RELEASE 16 November 2020

New Welcome to Country online travel platform invites Australians to have a life-changing experience

Welcome to Country, the first not-for-profit online marketplace for Australia’s First Peoples tourism experiences and products, will launch on 2 December 2020 with a free virtual event directed by Rhoda Roberts AO, Welcome to Country Board member and 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 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, historian and award-winning writer of the bestseller Dark Emu; Joe Williams, Aboriginal NRL player and boxer; Professor Marcia Langton, academic and author of Welcome to Country, a travel guide to Indigenous Australia; and Victor Steffensen, Indigenous land management and traditional fire practice expert.

Welcome to Country’s mission 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 (ICL), a foundation started by technology entrepreneur, and start-up and social enterprise investor Roger Allen AM.

Former Australian Tourism CEO and Welcome to Country Board member John Morse AM 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. 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,” Mr Morse said.

Jason Eades, the CEO of Welcome to Country, added, “We’ve been pleased by the response and support Welcome to Country has received from Aboriginal and Torres Strait tour operators, artists and other businesses.

“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. We also offer more than 1,000 beautifully and authentically crafted Aboriginal and Torres Strait products on our website. Every purchase made through www.welcometocountry.com supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” said Mr Eades.

Ms Roberts said, “Through Welcome to Country, imagine the unexpected – a First Nations’ travel experience is much more than capturing a picture of ancient landscapes across our vast continent. There is also the depth of listening, witnessing the diversity of cultures, the mystery of rituals, foods, language song and story. Country gets under your skin, be it through the unexplainable pleasure of gazing at a thousand stars or watching the tides that have travelled thousands of miles, hearing age old stories that have been told for tens of thousands of years. There is nothing quite like the sense of being welcomed and knowing this is also your place, where everything is connected.”

In order to watch the Welcome to Country events online, pre-registration before 1 December 2020 is a must. This can be done by going to https://www.welcometocountry.com/pages/thejourneybegins.

*Tourism Australia

For further information or interview requests with Welcome to Country Director Rhoda Roberts or CEO Jason Eades, please contact:

Tim Sculthorpe: tim@welcometocountry.com + 61 417 33 0653