What the open letter didn’t say

p2422 open letter OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The promoters of an open letter titled “Alice Springs – a great place to visit” have not contacted the embassies of countries where travel warnings have been issued, describing the town as dangerous.

 

No requests to withdraw the warnings have been made to the embassies.

 

One of the 12 signatories and an enthusiastic promoter of the letter is Mayor Damien Ryan. When asked “do you think people, especially women, should exercise caution, especially at night in Alice Springs? For example, not to walk alone?” he said: “I always encourage everyone anywhere in the world to be carful, no matter what they do.”

 

Mayor Ryan said the open letter initiative was a response to “discussion by journalists” and “recent stories about our town”. He said it was an invitation to people to come to Alice Springs “and find out for themselves.

 

“I’ve had a large number of calls congratulating us on making a stance … on standing up for our town.”

 

The letter (pictured) appeared as advertisements in the The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Brisbane Courier on Saturday at a total cost of $25,678.98, paid by the NT Government’s Tourism NT.

 

Asked whether bringing the Mall to life was a major issue during the campaign for the election of the current council, nearly five years ago, Mayor Ryan said: “It was not part of my election campaign.”

 

We asked whether there are more tangible ways to promote tourism than this open letter: “Why is there no sunset entertainment in the Mall every night during the tourist season and the shoulders? It seems facilities and staff of the council at one end, and Tourism Central Australia in the middle, would be ideally placed to organise and facilitate Mall entertainment, seven days a week, for a few hours at the end of the day. It would be very nice for locals as well. Why is it not happening?”

 

Mayor Ryan replied the council sees its role not as a creator of events but as a supporter – and that applied to some 100 events, including all the big ones such as the Finke Desert Race, NATS, Henley on Todd, Masters Games and Bangtail Muster. An exception is the public Christmas party which is a council initiative.

 

We asked why is there an assertion in the open letter that Alice Springs is home to Uluru, given it is 450 kms away and visitors fly there direct, with the active encouragement of Tourism NT?

 

Mayor Ryan said “Uluru is in Central Australia” and there is a “great connectivity” with Alice Springs. “Every person who comes to this region is important to us.”

 

We asked: “The majority of crime – clearly the reason for the warnings – is committed by young people neglected by their parents who are consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. It seems a no-brainer that effective supply restrictions are needed. Which ones do you favour?”

 

Mayor Ryan said he is “very impressed” with the Point of Sale Intervention [cops-at-bottleshops] initiative in the past two years and said it should continue alongside at Banned Drinkers Register proposed to be re-introduced. Both are needed, he said.

 

 

 

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4 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. Outsider Looking at ASP
    Posted March 29, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Control your streets and get budget flights. Two things required for tourism growth – all the rest follows naturally. So many people want to visit Alice Springs but are turned off?

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  2. Just Saying
    Posted March 29, 2017 at 8:28 am

    A couple of years ago a bazillion of our dollars was spent with the purpose of revitalising the Mall and now they want to do it again.
    Its simple, people won’t come to visit closed shops. So we need to get the shops open and that won’t cost the council anything.
    All they have to do is increase the rates on empty buildings in the CBD.
    The landlords are losing money already and if council increases the cost of an empty asset, landlords will start trying a bit harder to fill those shops. Lowering rent etc.

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  3. Posted March 29, 2017 at 8:09 am

    End-of-day performances by the many local musicians, occurring in the Mall is a great idea for so many obvious reasons.
    I did this numerous times in the 1980s with musos and it’s not that difficult with a small PA system.
    It creates paid work and gives a sense of cultural belonging that cannot really be created by other art forms.
    Music speaks all languages. We had occasional problems with intoxicated persons, but violence was extremely rare.
    I urge the council to look at this again, especially where inner-city gentrification is forcing musicians out and replacing “live” entertainment with grog shanties. Goodness, people might start dancing again.

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  4. Old Maate
    Posted March 28, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Alcohol restrictions aren’t stopping the youth at night. If we know the cause of the problem why aren’t we addressing the issue.
    I think this letter is the only thing they can do (apart from addressing the issues).
    They aren’t fooling anyone but, the story was based on facts and I’m sure 99% of locals they would agree with it.
    I wish it wasn’t so but it is and not talking about it isn’t going to fix it.
    The first warning to give people who visit is … don’t walk around at night, and especially not down the mall or Gap Road. Sad.

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