The escalating decline in visitor numbers into Alice is not …

Comment on After years of under-achieving, tourism promoters say they are getting cracking by Steve Brown.

The escalating decline in visitor numbers into Alice is not entirely due to world economic downturn. The decline can also be blamed very much on the continued emphasis by Government and favoured operators on the concentrated advertising of Ayers Rock/Uluru as the single great attraction of the Centre. The beautiful places on display in your article are virtually unknown to the rest of the World, even within our own Country.
When Tourism was in its infancy in the Centre, the Rock was a vague, distant, hard to get to, pretty well unknown attraction. Tourism began around the spectacular scenery, the sheer isolation, the frontier feel of the MacDonell Ranges, with Alice offering a comfortable, interesting base from which to view it all.
Too much Government interference and bureaucracy put an end to all that. Emphasis by Government, an emphasis that continues to this day, on promoting and pushing the interests of the Rock at the expense of the rest of the industry, compensating for a ridiculous over commitment at the Yulara Resort. The extra promotion eventually resulted in massively increasing numbers at the Resort, numbers increasing by up to 20% per annum.
Over confidence and arrogance brought about by the sheer weight of willing visitors and the lack of any competition for the Resort gave birth to a “meat market” style approach to tourism there, “get them in, take their money, kick them out”, attitude. At the same time local bureaucracy, Park Management developed its own special kind of resentful, couldn’t care less arrogance towards Park Visitors, a growing contempt for their wishes which has resulted over a considerable number of years in much anger and dissatisfaction with the product on offer.
Many visitors to the Centre after firstly being bruised by the Rock experience also find that they have missed out on much of what could, and should, have been offered to them for very little extra expense, leaving them disappointed, angry and feeling cheated by virtue of not having been made aware of all that was on offer in a Region they had gone to a great deal of expense to reach. Not advertising and selling the whole product, making sure visitors are aware of all that is available clearly demonstrates a level of disregard for their experience that they are not going to remember with affection when recounting their stories to others – still the most effective or disastrous form of advertising!
How do we counteract the now very negative perception of our product and the Rock??? I think it’s time Alice saw the Rock as a direct competitor, it’s time we worked very hard at selling the vastly superior product we have to offer. If we are successful in this it will also have the added benefit of forcing the Rock into lifting their game. Keep in mind Tourism at the Rock grew on the back of daily flights and bus trips out of Alice with visitors making our town their destination point. It’s time to recreate that market, light aircraft and buses from Alice to the Rock listed and promoted as only one of the hundreds of attraction on offer from our Town. It is time to actively compete with the Yulara Resort in providing accommodation for visitors to the Rock. Show the world the infinitely superior product we can offer with a fly in fly out, bus in bus out service.
Along with the competition for the Rock visitors, it is absolutely beyond time that we turned our attentions to our ‘Tourism Roots’. What we began with is still there! Nothing has changed! Only the belief and the vision have gone missing. How do we regain that? I believe we can.
It’s time to widen the Centralian Experience by opening up the MacDonnell Ranges to everyone, make the beautiful places within them accessible to the drive market, families, caravans, buses, campers. Open up our Parks, improve the access, encourage the development of facilities providing accommodation service and entertainment throughout the length and breadth of the Ranges. Actively encourage development of this kind by communities and pastoralists and any other interested parties, make available development sites at the various attractions on National Parks. Open up the magnificent Western Macs, actively encourage Aboriginal interest at Haasts Bluff, Papunya, Mt Liebig, Gosse’s Bluff and everywhere in between to open up and offer access to this extraordinary country that quite frankly leaves the Rock experience for dead!
Tourism dead in the Centre! No Future! Bullshit! We haven’t even begun! We’ve just been set back awhile by really lousy Government. We can change it! Just as soon as we’ve completed step ONE! Cleaning up this town, keeping it clean and making sure the rest of the world knows it!

PS: Might be time Editor took a trip west to bring back some shots of the extraordinary places that could and should be on offer. Great excuse for a trip, Erwin.

Steve Brown Also Commented

After years of under-achieving, tourism promoters say they are getting cracking
If the “Passionate Local Operator” would like to know what’s gone so horribly wrong with our Tourist Industry, stand in front of the mirror, put what you see together with the Management of Yulara and the Rock over the past 30 years and the the answer will be right in front of you. Back again today from another round trip through Glen Helen across the rough to Haasts Bluff then on to Papunya and back on the top road past Narwietooma, Milton Park, Hamilton Downs ect, even though I was in a rush as usual, doing the whole run in a few short hours, the country side flitting by outside the window at a pretty scary rate still awe inspiring, never ceasing to amaze. Sunrise across the face of Haasts Bluff capped by some early morning mist quite simply indescribably breath taking. Yet not a tourist in sight. How many years have we been developing our product, promoting our Region?? How much effort have we put into developing our infrastructure?? If we were to seal this Loop Road and open up gravel access roads into the many beautiful hidden and intriguing places within the mountains, adding camping places, walking trails, the occasional lodge, restaurant, hotel, motel what an astounding product we would have to sell the World! A product that certainly would warrant an International Airport. But you have to begin at the beginning, first build the product, then comes increasing numbers, flights, International Airports and the rest. It takes vision, guts, capital, hard work and a Government willing to provide the basic infrastructure whilst maintaining an appropriate non stifling distance from the developing industry. Let’s get on with it!


Recent Comments by Steve Brown

Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@ Hal: My reference is to Russell’s dad escaping the Germans and arriving in Australia.
Given that he escaped Germany during WW2, if he then set out for Australia he would have arrived during Australia’s greatest hour of peril, facing an imminent Japanese invasion.
Out of the frying pan almost into the fire, bar for the intervention of the USA.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@ Hal.. My comments relate to the American efforts in the Pacific not Europe. It would behove every Australian to member those efforts, together we turned the tide against the Japanese in New Guinea and in the huge naval battle, The Battle of the Coral Sea! These Battles, strong Australians and Americans standing up, laying down their lives for what we believe. It is they who you can thank for the last 70 years of Peace! Not lefty activist hanging on fences, Australians should never forget that fact. We should not bite the hand that held so strongly to our own, in our Nations hour of peril, Love or Loath their politics, we owe them a great debt, “Yep” The good Old USA!


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
Kind of odd that your Dad didn’t note after escaping the Germans that the only thing that stood between him and the Japanese was the strength and commitment of the USA. Or perhaps he arrived after the work was done and failed, like yourself Russell, to acknowledge those who did that work.
Those who sacrificed their lives, bringing about the “peace” that you seem think you have some claim on.
Peace is brought about by strength, Russell, not by cringing appeasement or for that matter by dirty unemployed blow ins climbing on the fences of our nation’s defences! Acting Russell for those who would tear us down, not for peace!
People in general across the world, including Americans, want and strive for peace, Russell. Funnily enough they actually do not like or appreciate the efforts of so called peace activists, in attempting to break down their positions of strength, because, Russell, those who read history, who understand human nature, know that only the strong find peace and hold it only while they remain strong.
Just as we have seen with North Korea, years of cringing appeasement instead of an early strong stance has led to escalation allowing the creation of a nuclear armed rouge state! A threat to the entire world!
The only thing that will bring North Korea to the negotiating table, Russell, is if they truly believe America is intent on attacking them.
That makes Donald Trump the most likely person to bring about peace! Try not to choke, lunatic lefties!
In the event Korea can’t be forced to disarm all the peace activist in the world hanging on fences all around the world will not make the slightest difference to Kim Jong-un unless of course they succeed in weakening the American position which of course would leave a laughing Kim Jong-un free to wreak havoc and mayhem upon the world. Because that, Russel, will be thee inevitable outcome.
Look back through your history books and see how long appeasement has ever kept a bully at bay.
Appeasement escalates!
It is not the road to peace it is the road to war!
Yes that’s scary, you’ve a right to be afraid, but don’t worry just as they have on every occasion before someone else will stand up for you and you better hope like hell that those Yanks you love to sling off at, are among them, or we, Russell, all of us, are in bloody big trouble!
Wisdom tells us that its not a particularly smart idea to bite the hand that feeds you. I can absolutely assure you that neither is it a particularly smart idea to bite the hand of the only nation that stands between you and annihilation!
America and Americans have stood beside us Aussies through thick and thin they have shed countless lives to protect us as we in turn have done for them.
They are our brothers and sisters defenders of western democracy at all costs and they have been a great big fantastic contributor to the town of Alice Springs, a huge rewarding contributing part of our community, for some 50 years!
A contribution that vastly exceeds the very questionable contribution of a few disaffected peace activists whose true intent was tearing our society down. Yes, the left over rejects of the failed Communist era.


Master plan for town, reconciliation plan for Australia Day
More divisive green party identity politics…
Just making sure those Aboriginals are separated out from the rest, nothing wrong with apartheid if you’re on the right concerned and well meaning side of it.
Aboriginal Aussies need to be reminded every day of their isolation and victim status, especially the kids, can’t have them thinking they’re just like everybody else, equal to the rest of us.
We can easily achieve this goal by flying separate flags, can’t have Aboriginal people thinking of themselves as equal partners in the Australian Nation! “Not one of the mob”! If we allow that how are we going to justify speaking for them, patronising them, creating wonderful government programs at huge expense to look after them? “Yes”, of course at a small fee, Greens have to live too. This is all for their own good, they are victims you know….
Yes all of the above is to be read with dripping sarcasm.
Segregation, Paternalism, Apartheid are our enemy not our friend, deeds done in another race’s name not at their request is what’s known as Paternalism or being Paternalistic. It is the most vile and the most destructive of all forms of racism, it steals away other people’s souls, their identity, their equality and their lives!
Yep, that’s Green Party politics.
Anzac Hill belongs to all of us.
it is there to represent and commemorate the Nations War dead it was given over by the TO’S specifically for just that purpose. We should recognise and respect that dedication.
Anzac hill represents the Nation that means all Australians regardless of race, in this place we are one! Reconciliation is about helping Aboriginal Australians to be comfortable with, or accepting of, being “part of the mob” it is about forgiveness and moving on! It is not about perpetual isolation!
Extending Apartheid!
Its about being “Equal” and perhaps most importantly, about “feeling equal”!
You do not achieve that outcome by exacerbating division!
By flying separate Flags in a place where we gather as a Nation remembering those who sacrificed their lives for all of us Australians, regardless of our genetics.


Tourism, cattle, mining, oil, gas: The world’s your oyster, Stuart.
I agree with all that you say Scott the real question is what are you going to do about it?
You’re the man in the chair.
Over some 63 years of living and working in the bush I came to understand the aspirations of Aboriginal Centralians – especially the kids are just the same as yours and mine.
No-one wants to be left sitting in the bush condemned to an existence somewhat akin to living museum piece, belittled and patronised while being force fed a hopeless going nowhere culture of victimhood, propagated of course by those with vested interest in the status quo!
Yes, Aboriginal people are aspirational! Of course, they are!
That is the driving force behind the ongoing fight for total equality.
It will allow individuals to be able to be the masters of their own destinies to receive reward for their efforts as individuals. It will allow individual ownership and control of homes of land of royalties, just like other Australians!
Equality will allow those who are aspirational and prepared to get off their backsides and work to benefit from their efforts, as opposed to the present system of community ownership, very like the failed Communists systems where those who did want to get ahead were dragged down by those who couldn’t be bothered.
This must change Scott. Break down the stranglehold of the Land Councils, they are parasitic organisations that simply feed bureaucrats while the average Aboriginal person lives and dies a pauper under their rule.
While I understand this will take a long time to achieve we must begin the conversation, show direction give those with aspiration hope something to strive for.
In the meantime, Scott, we have a more urgent problem: Your Labor Government has only been in for a bit more than a year yet we are already seeing the funds sucked back to the North to feed a luxurious lifestyle of Darwinians at the expense of the regions.
GST revenue intended to benefit and advance the lives of all Territorians are once again benefitting those in the capital, while we simply miss out!
Work is running low in the Centre. Love or hate Adam Giles while he was Chief, we saw more even, fairer distribution of revenue under his rule.
So, what are you going to do about that, Scott, Chansey, Dale?
Not much going on down here and we are relying on your voices at the table.
Which kind of brings me to the larger subject the eternal battle of the regions to gain a fair share of revenue, no matter who’s in Government in the North.
I can’t ever see that changing. Centralians are now even weaker with the loss of a seat.
Unless the people of the regions are prepared to put aside party politics and act as a block supporting whichever side they may choose in Government.
Looking back over a chain of failed [from a regional point of view] governments, it is quite clear that the talent pool of experience long term Territorians who understand and can represent the issues is quite small across all parties.
Given that councils made up of members from all kinds of political backgrounds can work it out and perform their role, maybe it’s about time Territorians outside of Darwin considered the establishment of a regional party which puts aside the normal Labor, Liberal divide, and worked jointly to advance the interest of the regions.
Which of course in the end are also the interests of the capital – healthy productive regions, a booming capital.


Be Sociable, Share!