APAC 2017 Australian Enterprise Awards

, Established in 2009 RAW runs tours in which travellers take part in unique, life- changing orangutan and other wildlife encounters and learn more about them, with a large portion of the holiday cost going directly to helping conservation efforts. Jessica explains how the firm works to create these life changing experiences for its clients. “With tour options mostly in and around North Sumatra Indonesia, here at RAW we believe in grass root community eco-tourism and promote responsible travel within all the destinations we work, with other tour options available inside of Borneo (Malaysia), Sri Lanka, Africa, Brunei, Mongolia, Congo and Uganda. “What sets us apart is that we have a unique style of only taking small groups at a time so our traveller are able to personally connect with the communities and conservation projects that their travel dollars support. Since our inception, RAW and our travellers (through their associated charity) have generated over AUD 1mil back into the local eco-tourism economy within North Sumatra, and over AUD 500k has gone back into the orangutan and community based conservation initiatives.” Best Wildlife Tour Operator - Australia Originating fromMelbourne Australia, RawWildlife Encounters (RAW) is in its basic form is an accredited travel agency, but beneath all of this, RAWdoes a lot more, as Founder Jessica McKelson explains. Founder and CEO, Jess developed this leading edge eco-tourism model after experiencing four months in Sumatra Indonesia following on from becoming the youngest Australian to be awarded the International Specialised Skills Institute (ISSI) fellowship. During her time in Sumatra she was mentored by leading conservationists, and realized the importance of working closely with local communities and spreading the knowledge so they can make a positive and lasting impact. She was also confronted by the devastation of what was happening to the orangutan habitats, and seeing so many orphaned orangutans and no forests for them to go to, affected her on a deep emotional level. Ever since then, she has dedicated her life to being an ambassador for protecting orangutans and their habitats. On her return to Melbourne, whilst still working at Melbourne Zoo, she began working closely with the local Tangkahan community to support them and deter their focus from illegal logging and destroying of endangered wildlife’s habitats and poaching, to instead being custodians and responsible for the forest and wildlife within it. She began to lead tours to Tangkahan so that travellers could experience the wonder of the community, forest and wildlife and see where their travel dollars are of help. She worked closely and trained many locals to be guides and share their knowledge, understanding, skills and cultures. With these successful tours, Jess was able to engage in a number of leading edge initiatives that allowed RAW and our travellers to give back to these communities they visited. She concludes by outlining her firm’s mission and its ongoing focus on achieving this. “Ultimately. RAW’s mission is to foster responsible tourism that benefits local people and wildlife in all our travel destinations. Through our sound ethical principles, we aim to ignite a passion in our guests which leads them to becoming more environmentally conscience. We support the responsible travel industry by providing the best industry technical skills and knowledge, quality travel arrangements and expertise that guests seek on their next getaway.” Contact: Jessica McKelson Contact Email: [email protected] Phone: +61 409162946 Web Address: www.rawildlife.com.au AE170077

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