LETTER: All the things we don't do for tourism promotion


Sir – In the main street of Bellingen, NSW, there is a very user friendly facility to refill water containers with filtered water. At a well known highway fuel stop 200 kms south of Alice there is a sign saying “we do not refill water containers”, implying that if you want water you have to buy it. What sort of message are we sending to visitors?
Further around the loop it costs 63 cents to cart a litre of fuel to King’s Canyon resort. Why? If you go 30 kms further around the loop towards Hermansburg, and stop at the wayside stop, take your gumboots, be very careful where you step, and don’t trip over the toilet paper.
Maybe that simply drives more people into the camping area at the resort.  Bush toilet procedures and protocols are obviously in short supply and a condition of every vehicle hire and transit permit should be to educate people in the fact that toilet paper does not break down easily. Perhaps disposable doggy poo bags on the bins there?
How many of your readers have noticed on commercial TV here advertisements replaced with scenic panoramas of eastern states tourists spots. Where are ours and what efforts have been made for our spots to feature? Are we not simply promoting tourism in other places while we are in the doldrums?
Where are the places where the growing numbers of grey nomads with caravans can conveniently stop and inspect what the whole of the Territory has to display? Mclaren Vale, Renmark and other places have recognised this need, but we still expect large cumbersome caravans to negotiate their way to the bus car park right in the centre of town, then look for information. The obvious place for this is still near the welcome rock at the southern entrance to town.
The interpretive signs showing the geological history of King’s Canyon are excellent, but where are the corresponding information signs for the Macs? Anzac hill is the obvious site for such signage, but there are not even signs telling visitors how to get there!
Southern Cape York mining areas have a wonderful display of the development of prehistoric animals in the form of panorama designed to be read by a 10 year old. We have fossils and a major mining history, both current and past, but no one would know.
And major events. Japan has a marathon relay for senior secondary schools which attracts a TV audience of around 80 million. Our scenery is far better that theirs. Why not from Glen Helen to Alice in 10 km legs?
And why not a fishing comp in the Todd in conjunction with Henley, where kids fly fish for prizes hooked out of the sand?  Or adults fish for vouchers?
Bellingen also has a very nice panorama of the Coffs district painted in a building adjacent to the bus stop. I immediately thought of the wall east of Adelaide House, to replace Panorama Guth.
And what of Indigenous culture and education? Where can visitors experience genuine bush foods? The Desert Park has done great work there, but where can they be publically displayed or promoted?  Who knows that asparagus grows well here?  Similarly with Indigenous education. Yipirinnya school has taken the lead here, promoting the positive aspects, but Yirara could well become another school of the air. And who knows what goes on behind the sign at Desert Knowledge?
It is a good move to bring the tourism portfolio back to Alice and a great opportunity to revamp the whole industry, both top and bottom. Basically, tourism planning has been an episode in navel gazing. Now is the time to stand up and look around at what others are doing. We should be selling experiences, not products.
Trevor Shiell
Alice Springs


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