By ERWIN CHLANDA
The coming summer will be a busy time for tourism managers in Alice Springs, says Tourism Central Australia (TCA) chairman Jeff Huyben.
Visitor numbers – as usual at that time – will be small but the government’s Tourism NT (TNT), the statutory body promoting the industry with a budget of more than $40m, will be setting up its headquarters here, moving from Darwin.
“I’m looking forward to the changes,” says Mr Huyben.
“They are bound to be beneficial to the region” while not losing sight of the needs elsewhere in the Territory.
Although a number of positions in the organisation are yet to be filled, the local lobby will be keen to strike up close relationships with the TNT, says Mr Huyben.
Tourism in the region has been in a prolonged slump, visitor numbers dropping by around 50% in the past 10 years.
The contract of TNT CEO John Fitzgerald (at right) is expiring in December and Tony Mayell (at left), who was in Central Australia in a number of positions, government and private, will return to take the job.
A spokeswoman for TNT says Mr Fitzgerald, who was appointed in February last year, is “in discussion” with the new government about any position for him.
A spokeswoman for Chief Minister Terry Mills says the government is “looking for a position” for Mr Fitzgerald.
The government has further defined the role of the new Tourist Commission, headed by Darwin identity Michael Bridge.
Mr Mills’ spokeswoman says it will have “more teeth than an advisory body,” can approve programs and can set policy directions for Tourism NT. The minister has ultimate discretion.
Meanwhile Mr Huyben says TCA is looking for a new general manager.
It is refurbishing its visitor’s centre by adding more information about the West MacDonnell national park.
It is also having a mobile information office built – a trailer that can be taken to major events such as the Masters Games, the Finke Desert Race and the big Road Transport Hall of Fame functions.
And it is devising a strategy for developing facilities for bicycle riders around the region, including King’s Canyon, says Mr Huyben.
Footnote (as reported previously): According to Rolf Gerritsen, Research Professor in Central Australia of the Charles Darwin University, Tourism NT spends 50 times as much per tourist as its NSW counterpart.
Tourism NT gets from the government $41.5m per year which is $183 per head of population of the Territory’s 226,000 people.
Tourism Queensland gets from its government $64.1m. That’s $13.80 per head of population of 4.6m.
That means Tourism NT, per head of population, gets 13 times as much as its Queensland counterpart.