Thursday, June 20, 2024

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HomeIssue 18Chamber flicks arts & cultural centre project to underachiever Tourism NT

Chamber flicks arts & cultural centre project to underachiever Tourism NT

A committee of the Alice Springs Chamber of Commerce has hand balled the proposal for a national indigenous art and culture center to Tourism NT, which appears to have put it on the back burner.
Liz Martin, who runs the highly successful National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Sprigs, says the town may lose a major opportunity to Queensland where she understands a similar project is being mooted, apparently assisted by major mining interests.
“We should grab it by the horns and run with it,” says Cr Martin who serves on the town council’s Tourism, Events and Promotion Committee and was its chair person for the last three years of the 11th Council.
Says Tourism NT CEO John Fitzgerald: “Tourism NT has not taken over planning of the proposed centre.
“The idea for it has been around a long time, and was raised at the public workshop we held in Alice Springs in March to obtain input on the development of our new strategic plan.
“As follow-up, we asked the consultant who facilitated the public workshop to have further discussions, and this feedback will be incorporated into the development process we are going through now for the new plan.”
Tourism NT appears to be having two strategic plans, both with goals many years away: One is “Towards 2020. Tourism in the Territory. Setting our direction”.
The other is “The Territory 2030 Strategy”.
We asked the chamber’s Executive Officer, Kaye Eade, and new president, Neil McLeod, what the chamber’s committee has accomplished since last November, when it was apparently set up, and why it is no longer pursuing the project which many locals, speaking in public, have described as a major initiative with the potential to get the town out of its current slump.
They have not replied, and neither has Jeff Huyben, chairman of Tourism Central Australia.
Tourism NT has a record of almost 20 years of dismal underachieving, presiding over the sustained decline of the industry in Alice Springs.
This is despite the organisation’s massive public funding.
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.
Pictured: At top – The sensational Canning Stockroute exhibition which enthralled visitors in Canberra and Sydney and indicated what a major national indigenous museum could be like, and what it could do for Alice. Above – Extensive computer displays were a hit young and old: this little girl is squashing a digital ant. Photos by Tim Acker, Canning Stock Route Project.


  1. I am shocked at this decision by the Chamber of Commerce in Alice Springs. This would be great opportunity to embrace and showcase some wonderful art from around the country and locally. This could be marketed into a major tourist attraction internationally and what I believe would be fantastic for everyone concerned. Let’s hope Tourism NT agrees with my remarks and fights for this center.

  2. You say “Tourism NT has a record of almost 20 years of dismal underachieving …”
    I wish to say that all our tourism management past and present should hang their heads in collective shame. Do they think they are totally unaccountable?
    You have written a sad but good report on just one malaise which plagues the Alice.

  3. As a result of a public forum held in November last year, a committee of some 10 dedicated local public and private sector individuals was formed and the Chamber of Commerce volunteered their premises and their time to act as secretariat for this group. This is not a Chamber of Commerce committee, so this project is not the Chamber’s to ‘flick’. There will be many avenues to travel and many groups of people to consult to ensure this project proceeds successfully. Tourism NT is one of these groups, as would be the Aboriginal leaders of this town. The committee is not exclusive, so if you have an interest in this project, you are more than welcome to participate.
    [ED – We still haven’t been told what the “10 dedicated local public and private sector individuals” have accomplished between last November and now, which is one of the questions we asked before posting this story. And why didn’t the local Chamber of Commerce stick with the project?]

  4. What is the matter with you guys in middle management Centralia??
    Still no reply from Jeff Huyben [Tourism Central Australia]. A poor response indeed from Kay Eade [Chamber of Commerce]. Precious little from [Tourism NT] CEO John Fitzgerald except to fly down, announcing crisis meetings – just another attempt to try keep it all in-house.
    Is it any wonder that the proposal for a national indigenous arts and cultural centre has never reached first base?
    David Chewings.


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