By ERWIN CHLANDA
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.
By ERWIN CHLANDA