After 34 years here and four in the remote area …

Comment on Tourism: let the battle for the big spenders begin by Trevor Shiell.

After 34 years here and four in the remote area tourism area I think the planning authorities have missed the mark in focusing on the high yield end of the market, and are being slightly greedy.
One manager put it to me this way: I would rather have one client paying $1000 a night than 100 clients paying $10.
Less problems and easier money. They miss the point that 100 people coming here spend more money in associated businesses – food, entertainment, regional travel etc that one “high yielding” client.
The total return to the operator might be the same but the distribution of the economic activity is far more widely spread.
This is where we have gone wrong. On a recent trip South in May last year we encountered 374 vans heading North between here and Coober Pedy.
I wondered at the time how many of them actually saw the visitors centre in town or for that matter, went on straight through without being intercepted at all by the town.
Maybe they did not even know where it was. Signage at the same rock perhaps? Still conspicuous by its absence.
There are at least 10 items of interest to visitors between there and the Gap, only one of which is exploited, but we have a brand new row of back yard fences were we should have a vibrant display of everything we do here, advertising ourselves and who we are.
An unique environmentally sound village there would have been a hit, but no, we got a replica of anywhere else in Australia.
Similarly at round the same time I did a brief survey of the traffic flow around the welcome rock south of town and there were 102 people photographed on that rock in the several hours that I sat there.
It is so obvious that his is where the interception area for the “low yielding” visitors should have been and from there, directed to where we want the economic activity to be.
I believe the total benefits to the NT would and should have been far more substantial and widely distributed than a few high yielding people arriving at the five star end of the market which seems to be the ultimate aim of the marketing plan.
I have witnessed caravaners being fined for parking illegally while trying to access the Visitors centre.
These things spread very rapidly amongst the caravaning community. In January last year the ABC programme “Summer all over” ran a survey of what the travelling public want in a visitors centre.
The view was that the essentials were clean toilets and adequate parking. Ours has neither. The refusal of the planners in the industry to look at places such as McLaren Vale, in SA and in North Qld show just how far we are away from enticing travellers to stay here and investigate.
The signage here is appalling and again I invite the planners in the industry to look at SA and the signage around Lake Eyre Eyre and then look at what we offer here. (Anzac Hill!)
There are new attractions all over the world that could be staged here but are ignored. Japan has a 100 km student marathon attracting 80 million TV viewers.
Imagine that from Glen Helen to the Mall, but the planners show no interest in that free publicity when I explained it to them.
The recent sand castle building on the beach South of Adelaide could be replicated here in the Todd.
So the list goes on and will be so until the planners take off their blinkers and look around at where the real market is, and act accordingly.

Recent Comments by Trevor Shiell

Gas-first government dodging urgent need to act on climate
In other parts of the country government involvement seems to have slowed down the inevitable move to renewable energy.
The huge development at Tailem Bend in SA, for example, has Singaporean money behind it and there are similar stories elsewhere.
A major real estate development North of Perth (Alkinos) was put in place and is largely independent of Government involvement in electricity, by a private developer.
That could have happened at Kilgarrif with just a little government foresight.
A public company is initialling significant solar resources on southern shopping centres and schools, and our own green shed has enough capacity on its trade outlet alone to power 35 houses, and no-one notices the row of inverters along the front supplying over 80% of it power needs.
The Alice could own and be very proud of owning its own power if we all got behind Re-power, as several other municipalities interstate have done.
Often governments slow progress down.
Who seems to care about the flood of electric vehicles heading this way and how we are going to benefit from them or even cope with them?

Business group may establish ‘federal’ prison in The Centre
Put it at Anzac next to the cultural centre and fill it with bankers and insurance executives, on the recommendation of the current Royal commission.
Great business for the northern end of the mall, where the major business group seems to want to operate.

Stagnant CBD; industrial land, rental shortage; houses hold
Again the CBD is where it is not because of current commercial imperatives but for historical reasons associated with the Telegraph line and Arltunga. It needs to move South.
There is land at Brewer and an inquiry into the status of allegedly Crown land south of the airport returned a variety of excuses and again I wonder how it is that land advertised as Crown land is not available for the Crown to use.
Arumbera as an industrial park is not an option as it ignores the geographic realities of The Gap. The last traffic flow census there was done in 2009 (now hopelessly out of date) and in the meantime local government in several metropolitan areas are spending big dollars on short term recreational walking tours close to other facilities.
Then we have the unique situation at Brewer where three major cross national Highways will intersect, with the shortest distance Brisbane / Perth being via the Outback Way and throw in an international airport, and rail hub, hospital with ample parking, and a visitors centre where busses can park and that’s where the future of the town lies.
But we continue to procrastinate, just as we have with Kilgariff, where several high tech food production companies in arid areas have moved offshore because they were never encouraged to look here, taking their employment, investment, and research dollars with them.
Instead we have canal frontage housing allotments without the boats (yet).
And how about a defensive driving facility at the motor sports complex. Statistics show this to be a very necessary thing but completely overlooked as a means of catering for the growing number of senior students visiting here, and their cash.
We need to stop looking backwards, and look for new opportunities.

ANZAC Oval art gallery good for Mall traders: Chamber
How much longer will the delusion last and how many more times will the mall be “invigorated” before they realise that the CBD is now in the wrong place and out of date.
It was great when the centre of commercial activity were the Telegraph Station and Arltunga. But times change.
The Mega flora museum should be a the AZRI geology centre in conjunction with the rest of our amazing geology, the cultural centre should be in conjunction with Yirrara with the achievement of the students portrayed, the visitors centre as at Katherine should be at the highway intersection with the display of the bush tucker potential, and with the Hall of Fame constitute a new tourism hub to proactively intercept visitors and direct them to where the commerce people want them to be.
The short sighted planning in that area and the introduction of new industries here has been very sad.
We have a fixation with speed and fast motor sport, but how about a training school in defensive driving for the hundreds of senior school students that visit, or a training school to prevent the sad loss of live on quad bikes in conjunction with the drag strip.
At least two medicinal cannabis and Ag technology companies are now operating out of Israel because no one thought to ask them to look at doing their research in this arid area.
Perhaps advertising canal frontage blocks of land with yacht anchorages on the corner of the highway and Col Rose Drive where the ridiculous quasi mining operation is, will be the next brain wave?

Prof Gerritsen: We got it wrong from the start
Alex Nelson is spot on. Having spent a significant part of my life living in remote and rural Fiji it was disturbing to see the influence China has there now. Where once Radio Australia was, there is now Radio China speaking in English, and sat. antenna, all solar powered. This happened at around the same time as our HF service disappeared as well, and here was a massive Chinese electronic surveillance ship in Suva harbour. Lee Kwan Yew had it right with his series of 5 year plans and that’s why our fuel comes from Singapore. We are just slow learners.
However some things don’t change and sitting on the side of the road near the school, which we initiated and which the school community built themselves, sat some of the students that we taught, selling bananas at 50 cents a bunch to get the $30 a term school fees for their grandchildren. An old Indian friend – a small scale rice farmer- still walks the 15 KM to the school to pay the school fees for his grandson, seeing it as good value.
That school produced a high ranking Police officer, a couple of doctors and a Diplomat. Then I returned here to see the bus doing its rounds of the camps to pick up kids to take them to school should they be inclined to do so.
Then I recalled the incident years ago when I had to challenge a boy who threw chairs around a room in a maths class. His immediate response was “You can’t do anything to me, I’m Aboriginal” in pretty much those words. Another young woman accused me of picking on her for bad behaviour and I was accused of being racist.
I pointed out to her that my own three children had the same skin colour as he did, being part Fijian. Again her response was “But they’re not Aboriginal”. We have to ask ourselves how these things came about and in whose best interests are they?
There are many really positive stories of Indigenous achievement in this town – an acclaimed actor and several prominent academics, an international airline pilot – and my closest friends here over the last 35 years have been Aboriginal men, all of whom have done great things for themselves and their families, without excuse. What is happening now, and why?

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