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

Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: the nays have it 
@ Concerned Arrernte Man: If you were indeed a concerned Arrernte “man” you would use your real name, like a man, so that we locals know what your word is worth.
What I suspect is that you aren’t local at all. We are trying to put our town together not rip it apart, your intention is clearly the opposite.
Anzac Hill was sincerely and solemnly dedicated by TOs many years ago to the purpose which it serves respectfully to this day.
It was and remains a joint community effort, if indeed you are a Arrernte man you would do well to respect and to learn from the decisions of your elders.


‘Dangerous, alarming’ property tax strongly opposed by council
Yeh Evelyn I used those words so as not to go into a long winded conversation about the technicalities of Drilling for Gas as it has nothing to do with the conversation at hand… However I am extremely well aware of the dangers or otherwise of Drilling. I have drilled water bores myself and I have family in the exploration business who own their own Rigs. Horizontal Drilling has been in use for a long time it has been developed simply to save costs because you don’t have to drill as many vertical penetrations through the water bearing Aquifers as such it is actually a much safer less expensive method of extraction. Further to this my comment around safety of some forms of Fracking refers to Coal Seam Gas which I substantially oppose.


Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: the nays have it 
It is important when dealing with issues that stir emotions and threaten to deepen the divides in our community that we remember and respect that we are One Nation called Australia. That we are a Democracy! We regard all our citizens as equals! In a democracy decisions fall in favour of the Majority, regardless of race, gender or religion.

Separate recognition is not respect! It is a continuation of, a deepening of, the Politics of Apartheid and Victimhood.
Nothing, but greater and greater division will come of it!
No good ever comes from Apartheid.
Only the institutionalised acceptance of lower standards and less expectation, for those on the wrong side of it.
Previously as a Councillor and Political Candidate I was approached time and time again by locals of Aboriginal background, Aussies who are sick to death of division who just want to get on with their lives just like the rest of us, stating that they do not want to see separate flags flying on Anzac Hill because that sends the message that they aren’t accepted as Australians.
I am also aware of Councillor DeBrenni and other efforts to consult widely on this front, checking the views of many locals Aboriginal and non-alike, making sure that their views are expressed clearly in Council.
Many local families don’t wish others to know their views as in a small town it can lead to family infighting as we have witnessed firsthand with a small group of locals attacking views expressed by Councillor Price. They rely heavily on their Elected Representatives to put forward their view and to stand up for them.
This whole flag flying issue was instigated by Labor MLA Chansey Paech its only intent to create disruption dissent and division its only intent to divert attention from his failure to stand up for our Community while once again it comes apart under a Labor Government.
The ladies who approached Council did so with a letter about respect reconciliation and working together. There was no mention whatsoever of flying flags, nor was it mentioned by Catherine Satour when presenting the letter. From events later in the evening it came to the fore that the letter was actually apart of an attack on Councillor Price because of her expressed views on the very things that should also be of great concern to these ladies.


‘Dangerous, alarming’ property tax strongly opposed by council
Evelyn, So easy to make throw away green propaganda statements without taking any responsibility for dealing with the consequences.
Firstly under many circumstances Fracking is perfectly safe!
We’ve been Fracking Conventional and Tight Gas wells for some fifty years. There is an established industry already operating in the Territory and many reliant on it, including for that matter nearly all the Territory’s power supplies!
Further if we stand in the way and don’t further develop our Gas Supplies as the rest of the country expects us to, there is a price to pay!
We are going to receive less GST!
After all why should the rest of Aus. who already have Fracking, support what you believe at their expense?
In response to this issue you are suggesting that we ask struggling Territorians to pay another level of Tax similar to a second lot of rates every year.
This, in a shrinking economy!
We are already struggling with affordability, Land Taxes will translate into higher rents and Higher costs all round.
I don’t think Territorians can or want to afford that. Especially given that much of the country already receives revenue from “Fracking”, which surprisingly enough, is why their eyebrows are somewhat raised in our direction.
So we might want to give it all a lot more thought than cheap throw away lines. Not that I’m saying Fracking is the only answer to our revenue issue, it certainly isn’t. We have a shrinking economy because it is being strangled by our Government suffocating any industry that offers potential growth and strangling the life from existing business. The real answer is actually to strangle Government and return to a private enterprise driven economy.


‘Dangerous, alarming’ property tax strongly opposed by council
The amounts I’ve heard quoted for the initial land tax are far in excess of $300 but even if they weren’t initially they pretty soon would be.
The Territory has a revenue problem alright. Why? For one reason only!
We have taken money supplied by other Australians to both develop the North to a point where it can take advantage of the simply enormous economic opportunity that surrounds it, and to improve the plight of our Aboriginal population via similar means.
Instead of that we have taken the massive extra funding we receive over and above other States and Territories and we’ve built a giant, cumbersome, enterprise stifling, parasitic bureaucracy!
This is to a point where any Federal attempt to fund development is like throwing the proverbial at a blanket – very very little gets to its intended destination.
The answer to our revenue issue isn’t more business and entrepreneurial activity stifling tax!
The answer is less tax.
Much, much smaller Government along with a huge cultural shift in the attitude of our capital that thinks it is OK to milk of funds and use them to provide lavish recreational facilities and lifestyle for the those that live in the capital while regions struggling with basic infrastructure can’t get their developments off the ground.
Yeh, we’ve got a problem alright!
The sooner the Feds enforce their enquiry into funding the sooner we will be able to do something about it.


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