Nature delivers what tourists want: the numbers

But Alice could sell itself better: A third of visitors would have extended their stay had they been aware of the range of things to see and do. 

Anzac Hill at sunset: 57% of visitors to Central Australia make Anzac Hill part of their experience. 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Why do visitors want to come to Central Australia? The main reason is that it is seen as an iconic Australian destination and it is made so by its natural attractions. This is the case for the majority of the region’s international and domestic visitors. And nature delivers, exceeding expectations for both categories.

The questions are fundamental and the answers clear in the Central Australia Visitor Profile and Satisfaction (VPS) project, undertaken by Tourism Research Australia in partnership with Tourism NT, with its most recent survey conducted in two waves in May and August 2011, to capture both shoulder and peak season visitors.

The local debate is very attuned to international perceptions and responses, but the majority of our visitors – 75% – continue to be domestic. So while experience of the unique natural environment is important for them, they are more likely than international visitors to have other reasons as well for visiting:

• a variety of things to see and do (29%);

• relaxing (22%);

• spending time with others (14%);

• attending specific events (9%).

It’s interesting to see what counts as a ‘natural’ experience. In Alice it’s a visit to Anzac Hill – 57% of visitors to Central Australia do that. That’s more than visit Watarrka (Kings Canyon) – 47% – but fewer than visit Uluru (Ayers Rock) – 76%.

Natural attractions were the most visited attractions in The Centre, with Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park the most visited attraction for all visitor types.

Drive visitors (37% of total – 49% arrive by air) were more likely than other visitors to go to the Alice Springs Desert Park and the gorges and waterholes, including Glen Helen Gorge, Ormiston Gorge and Ellery Creek Big Hole, while rail/coach visitors (13%) were significantly more likely than other visitors to go to local attractions such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Alice Springs School of the Air and Alice Springs Reptile Centre.

Alice Springs is the most visited town in The Centre – 89% of visitors to the region come here, compared to Yulara (69%) and Kings Canyon (49%), with around 11% of visitors stopping in Yulara for a daytrip.

Alice could definitely ‘sell itself’ better as 26% of visitors said “there was a lot more to do in Alice Springs than I expected”, and 23% said “Alice Springs was better than I expected”. Two in five visitors (40%) had not been aware of the range of things to see and do in Alice Springs prior to their visit, and, importantly, a third of visitors (34%) would have extended their stay had they been aware.

The majority of visitors – 61% – were very satisfied with Central Australia’s attractions, natural and commercial, which is 12 points higher than the VPS benchmark (that is, the average for the other regional tourist destinations surveyed). Attractions were a very important attribute of their visit to two in five visitors (39%) – 21 points higher than the VPS benchmark.

Learning about Aboriginal culture was an important reason for visiting The Centre for 25% of international visitors. It was in their Top 5 expectations of their visit, but did not figure in the list of experiences exceeding expectations.

Increasing the opportunity for “Indigenous Australians to share their culture” is a key recommendation of the project. Another is to improve digital marketing and the online distribution of information about the region.

 

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2 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. David Chewings
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Rex Neindorf – If you believe in it then the time is right to very quickly get support from all parties and all governments.
    The NT election is when? The Feds’ three ring fiasco means that they are in campaign mode EVERY day. Their doors are wide open to the idea.
    Personally, I think Alice is too good a place to denigrate with u-mines, immigration centres and the Gina Rinehart push to “çentralise’ Aboriginal Affairs”.
    There is a crisis to be solved in Alice Springs and I do not feel that the Darwin mob are currently up to the task. I do feel that prior to getting on the road to recovery, a local call centre must be established as I said just once or twice before.

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  2. Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Well done Erwin on publishing a good news story for our tourism businesses here in The Alice. The top seven local commercial tourism attractions in Alice Springs were surveyed and all were placed above the Australian benchmark which is a fantastic achievement. Visitors to Alice were impressed with the local attractions and as stated many would have stayed longer if they had known of the variety of attractions on offer.
    It was also interesting to note that people surveyed were impressed that the attractions suited the destination and “people to people” interaction was highly prized. People (read “tourists”) just love having a chat and rate this as a major factor influencing their enjoyment of the product. Our place, the Alice Springs Reptile Centre rated highly due to our friendliness and knowledge. Visitors loved our daily shows as it gave them a chance to interact with an actual person!
    As for people finding out about our attractions before they arrive so that we may influence their length of stay, local operators, Tourism Central Australia and Tourism NT have been working co-operatively on this issue for many, many years. Through various forms of marketing, attending trade and consumer shows to even trying to educate travel agents as to what we have on offer everything is being tried. As always we are keen for anyone who has a great idea to contact TCA or Tourism NT if you think there is an initiative which may help our tourism industry.
    There has been ongoing discussions for many years in regards to a National Aboriginal Cultural Centre based here in Alice Springs. This I believe would be a great asset to our town and one would hope that it does happen one day however I am sure it won’t happen Next Tuesday or Next Thursday!

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