COMMENT: Does Tourism Central Australia still have a pulse?

The local tourism industry is in a prolonged crisis but it has no voice. Two members of the Town Council are making damaging allegations of price gouging by hotels, threatening the future of the Masters Games and other major events, but Tourism Central Australia (TCA) is mum. No answer to our request for comment 24 hours ago.
The new government is making massive changes to the chronically underachieving Tourism NT. What’s the input from TCA? They’re not saying.
Its chairman, Jeff Huyben, promised us an interview after attending a national conference of regional tourism associations. We’re still waiting.
The one industry here that can stimulate private enterprise in a town increasingly dependent on government and welfare spending has got nothing to say to the public.
Let’s look at the price gouging allegations. There is obviously plenty to be said. The following comes from an industry source speaking on the condition of not being named. That means it does not have the clout attached to a statement from a lobby that’s doing its job, which TCA clearly is not.
Our source says the allegations are false. Accommodation houses have “rack rates” but in the current climate are forced to sell rooms at huge discounts.
Go to wotif.com. You’ll find the rack rate in the “Full rate” column and the current discounts on the right. For example, one local hotel has a rack rate of $220 but early this morning offered rooms for $99 between November 14 and 27.
The source claims gouging isn’t taking place if the advertised rack rate is not exceeded. Naturally, when it is possible to obtain the full advertised rate, the hotels will charge it, says the source.
The source also has a lot to say about the timing of the Masters Games: October and November have become busy with inbound tourists. May would be better.
But don’t ask me. Ask TCA. And don’t hold you breath. – Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

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6 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Jeff Hausler
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 7:35 am

    If TCA get a BUDGET AIRLINE into Alice Springs they will save Central Australian tourism.

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  2. Paul Lelliott
    Posted November 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Erwin, there is a Tourism Central Australia (TCA) annual general meeting scheduled for December 5th. At that meeting several board positions will be decided. You will see a new management style in place which will be congruent with the administrative changes taking place throughout the Territory under the leadership of new Tourism NT boss Tony Mayell.
    The answers to your questions will have more relevance when these changes are complete. Meanwhile may I suggest that you conduct a marketing audit on how tourism is perceived in our region and submit your summaries to the TCA board rather that single out individuals for spontaneous responses. As I have alluded to in previous commentaries we are in for unprecedented changes in the way we do business. Let’s give the new regime a little time to observe, plan and action.

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  3. Posted November 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I am in the industry and I don’t agree with Anon at all, we see Jeff Huyben at every single tourism event we go to. He is always walking around and chatting to everyone. You have to remember the whole tourism industry is pretty much non existent during the Nov-March period most accom providers wouldn’t be able to afford to stay open if it wasn’t for peak season rates.

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  4. Posted November 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Two items are close to my heart by these comments, first I am a B&B owner and my prices all year around have been the same for the last four years. We had special discount prices for masters Games groups, so we took the opposite approach and encouraged visitors.
    Secondly, Alice Springs was and still is, to some extent, a close community. Most events, sporting, Christmas, school, scouts events etc were always supported by the people, parents, and local businesses.
    The community does appreciate the grants that the government have, but the locals still ran the events.
    Now the government is taking over the running of the Games and so many of the local businesses are missing out. And the new staffing every two years in the office, seem to re-invent the wheel and this is very frustrating to the old hands, knowing what now works and what does not.
    Bring it back to the people.

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  5. Sean
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I completely agree with Anon, on every line.

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  6. Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I completely understand your frustration with the relevant department Erwin and their obvious stonewalling. On the same day as the changes were announced through the office of Matt Conlan I was on the phone at length to a staffer in the same office. I was polite and congratulatory but wanted to make a few points as well.
    She said she had experience in the tourism and seemed to understand my questions. Too many staffers have done too little over the past 20 years by taking the tourist for granted.
    In Central Australia the product is exceptional but at present unaffordable for many who do not know how good it can be. The present climate of departmental reform is a good opportunity for those poor performers to get with it or get off the gravy train.
    D. R. Chewings aka THE lone dingo

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