Most people in the tourism industry know that international visitation …

Comment on Centre on the outer in visitor trade with China, but commission head says Tourism NT ‘will make every effort’ to fix problem by Steve Strike.

Most people in the tourism industry know that international visitation has been decimated, particularly in the NT. At a time when Australia is enjoying record trade and profits from China in mining and other industries, tourism is in the doldrums.
It is clear to me that there has not been the same level of effort put into securing a buoyant tourist trade with China like has happened with the industries just mentioned.
Figures released by the Chinese Department of National Tourist Administration reveal more than 57 million Chinese nationals traveled overseas on foreign visas in 2010. If Australia’s share was 300,000 in 2011/12 then we failed miserably. That is less than .6% (point six of a percent) from a country with the same time zone as WA and a flying time of six to eight hours to get here.
Australia clearly has a serious problem with immigration management. I personally believe the current Chinese-Australian visa regime harks back to the deal done with China post Tiananmen Square. That’s 23 years ago. It is time the tourism industry Australia wide pressured the government to bring Chinese visa regulations inline with our other major trading partners.
To clarify the current situation, unless you have relatives living in Australia or someone prepared to sponsor you, it is virtually impossible to gain access as an individual FIT (Free and Independent Traveler). The “authorised” way for Chinese nationals wanting to visit Australia is to buy “authorised” packages sold by “authorised” agents. The agents do the visa application as part of the package. It is a reasonably quick process of three to four days.
For Alice Springs our packaged product has been gutted. Our major package suppliers APT and AAT Kings are now operating in the NT on a shoestring. Dozens of other inbound package suppliers have deserted the NT in the past 10 years. The key factor influencing the demise of NT packaged product is the high cost of internal air travel. With all our major supply routes monopolised by one airline we don’t stand a chance.
John Sanby may wish to verify this.
In recent years NT tourism has barely survived on the back of the FIT market. FIT travelers generally have more money to spend than the package market.
There is great wealth in China. It can only be tapped if we free up our archaic immigration system, get over our anti Asian phobia and open up aviation access.

Recent Comments by Steve Strike

Alcohol floor price may breach Australian Constitution
I have been working in Arnhemland this year and regularly fly in small aircraft to remote locations. The story the charter pilots tell of flying single cartons of beer and a pack of smokes to remote communities is mind-boggling!
Sometimes its a bottle of rum or whatever the fancy of the day is. However the issue is what these people pay for such commodities. $800 for a pack of smokes and a carton is about the norm – and that doesn’t include the cost of the charter.
So a government trying to manipulate alcohol pricing is complete pie in the sky. If you want something bad enough you will pay anything for it.
Another thing the bureaucrats don’t understand is Indigenous culture.
The rules are clearly white man informed. They affect white man’s ideology more than Indigenous. When you have a 40,000 year old culture of sharing everything, then it perfectly acceptable for 10 mates to chip in fifty bucks each to buy a bottle of rum!


Pilot academy for Toowoomba: why did Alice miss out?
Seems Qantas already owes Alice Springs Airport $1.6m in overdue charges, according to the ABC.
So with Qantas already making a public announcement that Alice Springs and Darwin Airports are the most expensive in the country, how can Qantas even consider Alice as an ideal training base?
NT Airports have a lot to answer for, too. Like playing a game with the hopes of Alice Springs residents and businesses knowing full well that they have serious issues with Qantas on a day to day basis.
[ED – We have invited the Alice Springs airport manager to respond.]


Pilot academy for Toowoomba: why did Alice miss out?
Alice Springs will never be in the race for a pilot training academy. If the people behind the submission had done their research they would have discovered that the owners of Alice Springs Airport are basically at war with Qantas over landing fees and airport charges.
Whilst such disputes are in place Alice will be placed last on the list by Qantas. Unfortunately the people of Alice are the losers. Two huge corporations locking horns over costs with no resolution in sight is disastrous for Alice.
If the NT Government was truly serious about doing something for Alice it would have matched of bettered the Toowoomba offer. Unfortunately there are not many sharp tools in the NT Government with the knowhow to make such an offer.


Art gallery: Door slammed on Desert Park
There is only one location for this project and that is the old Melanka site.
Someone please show some vision and turn this eyesore into a valuable asset for Alice Springs. It’s in the perfect location and will utilise valuable wasted space.
NT Government, show some guts, buy the land and do something worthwhile for Alice. It’s not rocket science.


Public acknowledgment a condition for govt funding
I am shocked. After some months away from Alice and returning to a green paradise, there in the middle of it all is the most ugly concrete and black tarred expanse of manmade crap that I have ever seen.
Absolutely hideous. No landscaping, no environmental considerations or aesthetic, no thought of shade from the extreme weather here.
Just another thoughtless, ridiculous government plan it and build it from an airconditioned office folly.
Not disimmilar to the concrete barrage built in the Gap a few years ago.


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