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

There’s more to renewables than sunshine
Until now every drop of water that was ever on the earth has remained on the earth.
Wouldn’t it be the ultimate irony if quasi religious climate fanatics were eventually responsible for using up that water, turning it into hydrogen?
It would be even more ironical that we should consider that in one of the driest places on earth, where water is absolutely in its most valuable state as water.
We should all understand that there is no such thing as free energy. There is always a price and generally speaking it would be a pretty bloody smart idea to understand that price, monetary or otherwise, before we go racing off creating even more mammoth environmental issues for future generations.
For the present there are so many ifs around the Hydrogen idea that – dare I say it – it’s simply a pipe dream!
Also noted the quick duck for cover by Mr Duignan when the question about feed-in prices for home solar generators was raised.
Whose issue would that be then Mr Duignan? Wouldn’t that be the Territory Government and given that Territory Generation is in fact a quasi public service operation owned lock stock and barrel by Territory taxpayers, maybe a more responsible answer would be in keeping with that role.


Community solar: the devil is in the wires
Yes, and then there’s all the community facilities of which we are all joint owners! Places such schools, hospitals, police stations, street lighting, ecetera, the list is endless.
All of these facilities require power 24/7 as does welfare housing, hotels and motels, all connected to the rest of the grid.
Consumers on the remaining grid would, as they do now, have to pay their share of those costs, plus, the share of those in the community system.
This is already occurring of course, on a smaller scale, and the costs to the poor old hapless consumer who can’t afford to instal solar, are already escalating.
The only fair way to rectify this imbalance, which of course nobody wants to hear about, all studiously avoiding the subject, is for owners of solar systems to pay their share of those costs!
Another words, pay not only for their use of the grid, but for the existence of the grid.
Yes, even if they are operating a stand alone system.
This of course effects the whole viability of installing solar, dragging its payback time out by quite a bit.
However, if we are to honestly asses the true worth of solar to the community, then these costs really must be taken into account.
It’s time the rose coloured glasses came off, frank and honest assessments are made.
Governments parading solar as world changing advancement are often actually subsidising its installation while blithely ignoring the true and growing cost to community. Just face up to, and come up with, some fair and equable answers!
Now we seem to be adding lithium iron batteries to the mix, as if they are some kind of nice environmentally friendly answer to our storage problems, when to my eye, precisely the opposite is true.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of the idea of renewable power but it must be truly honestly viable, covering all the costs, and it absolutely must create less pollution than our present systems of generation or we are all fooling ourselves.


Ratepayer, do you want your money back?
Such an astoundingly naive proposal could only ever have originated with one Councillor Melky. As always grandstanding without the slightest thought given to the actual consequences of such a profoundly counter productive decision. Which if carried out to the letter would see a good deal of the windfall funds blown in the name of community consultation. Any attempt to refund it would incur even greater costs reducing any refund to a piddling amount producing no worthwhile outcome for the community, especially when you consider Council has on its books many unfunded, or even worse partially funded, or non completed projects that could have, and indeed should have, been funded partially or otherwise from these funds! Benefiting the Community and its economy as a whole.
More importantly, not wasting a huge amount of Council’s time and productivity messing about with a messy, unproductive, time wasting and resultantly expensive, refund. Further to that should Council do the sensible thing and allocate the funds to other projects, it will also provide Councillors with a very good argument against further rate rises next year.
Something I am quite certain, all Rate payers would be relieved to hear.
New councillors need to be across and take responsibility for their role as Body Corporate style managers of their Community’s assets and not to be so easily be duped into making what may seem on the face of it to be responsible decisions but which are in fact cheap political attention seeking ploys with no regard for what may well turn out to be far reaching consequence…
Take time to think it all the way through…
Before you act!


Bottle shop cops ‘security guards, paid for by the taxpayer’
From the moment the POSIs were implemented they have proved themselves to be the single most effective crime prevention measure the Territory has ever seen.
Now I don’t know about you Paul McCue but I would much rather have my family home and business all kept in one piece as opposed to paying out my hard earned to employ a police person who gets greater job satisfaction from aftermath policing!
A person who apparently has so little empathy for the public’s plight that they would actually ask for our support in that role but not in the preventative role!
Call it self interest if you like Mr McCue, but I like many other Territorians, through the voices of our politicians, are going to keep on insisting on the POSIs wherever they are needed.
If we have a police staffing issue employ more police – just as we have been promised on many occasions over the past dozen years.
Fill all of the roles the community requires, not just the roles that suite you!


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.


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