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WA Indigenous tourism peak body secures funding boost for emerging businesses

Giovanni Torre -

The Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council's new charitable arm, Aboriginal Tourism Western Australia, established to secure philanthropic and Lotterywest partnerships, has sourced inaugural funding of $3.9 million over the next four years.

WAITOC announced the news on Friday.

The Council has developed its charitable education and training arm to deliver Aboriginal tourism business capacity-building in underdeveloped areas of Western Australia.

The historic four-year funding agreement, provided through the support of philanthropists and Lotterywest, will see Aboriginal Tourism Western Australia (ATWA) receive $975,000 a year over to develop new Aboriginal tourism initiatives in the state.

Working in close partnership with the WAITOC, ATWA will build business capacity, deliver mentoring, and support emerging Aboriginal businesses at the grassroots level.

Visitors to Western Australia consistently express enthusiasm for undertaking authentic Aboriginal cultural experiences when in the state. WAITOC said on Friday that the additional funding will go a long way in developing 60 businesses during the four-year period.

ATWA chair, Esperance tourism stalwart and respected Wudjari Nyungar Ronald "Doc" Reynolds has long advocated for the economic and social impact of Aboriginal tourism to be used to drive Aboriginal self-determination.

"The four-year new funding agreement was a boon to Aboriginal tourism and a commitment by AWTA to provide economic and social opportunities to communities," he said.

Mr Reynolds said the "much-needed" funding will provide "more certainty in developing and delivering new Aboriginal tourism products".

WAITOC chief executive Robert Taylor said there has been a gap in the development of the Aboriginal tourism business across parts of WA.

"Over the past five years, WA's peak Aboriginal tourism body has created the vehicle, ATWA, and it will complement WAITOC's activities with funding stakeholders to expand Aboriginal tourism development and capacity across all areas of the state," he said.

"This successful outcome is due to the strategic work and support of the WAITOC Board."

WAITOC chairperson Walter McGuire said he was proud to spearhead the new development and partnership between ATWA and WAITOC.

"We are working to develop emerging Aboriginal tourism leaders. This new charity will offer prospective stakeholders the pathway to support and enhance economic and job opportunities utilising Aboriginal tourism as the vehicle," he said.

Earlier this year, WAITOC and the Western Australian government via Tourism Western Australia signed a historic $4.32 million agreement for Jina: Western Australian Aboriginal Tourism Action Plan 2021-2025.

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