By ERWIN CHLANDA
Alice Springs is rating scarcely a mention in a breathless media handout about a promotion in Melbourne’s Federation Square, starting today, April 1, from Tourism Minister and Chief Minister Adam Giles.
The centerpiece, notwithstanding the Territory’s endemic alcohol problems, is a pub: “The Outback Watering Hole is the perfect place to wet your whistle with a range of ice cold beer, wines and even some local NT Mango ice cream, all the way from Darwin,” says the Tourism NT blurb.
Alcohol is by far the most frequent cause of the sustained and endemic crime rate here which has led to a drop in tourism.
Says Mr Giles: “Visitors will get a feel for what a holiday in the Northern Territory is like with [virtual reality headsets] to take viewers on a journey through the NT’s spectacular scenery at Kakadu and Katherine.”
An outdoor giant digital billboard will promote Jetstar sale fares to Uluru and Darwin, says Mr Giles.
The event will also promote Season 2 of the Million Dollar Fish competition which includes a barramundi fishing adventure in the Top End.
Tourism Central Australia, the industry lobby in The Centre, does its best to look at the bright side of the event.
“Local Alice Springs musicians Andrew Langford and Dave Crowe will be performing tonight at Federation Square,” says CEO Stephen Schwer.
Both Mr Langford and Mr Crowe are non-Indigenous people playing the didgeridoo, a Top End Indigenous instrument.
Mr Schwer says they will be “adding to the amazing list of local talents. They will also chatting with the crowds at Federation Square over the next few days promoting Alice Springs and the Red Centre and all the attractions and experiences that make this region the magical heart of Australia.
“Alice Springs tourism businesses Outback Ballooning, Alice Springs Reptile Centre and The Rock Tour are also attending the event to promote Alice Springs and the Red Centre.
“Rex from the Alice Springs Reptile Centre has taken along Blossom the Bearded Dragon and Olive the Python which have already been a huge hit with the crowds today at Federation Square.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to share with the Melbourne crowds why Alice Springs and the Red Centre is a must visit destination for all Australians and overseas visitors.”
Participants are: Central Australia: Intrepid Travel / Adventure Tours, Outback Ballooning, The Rock Tour, Wayoutback Australian Safaris, Voyages Ayers Rock Resort, Alice Springs Reptile Centre.
Top End: Chillis Backpackers / Youth Shack, Crocosaurus Cove & Melaleuca on Mitchell, SeaLink NT, Kimberley Adventure Tours, Territory Expeditions.
Tony Mayell, CEO Tourism NT, says the inaugural ‘Backpack the Outback’ roadshow runs from 31 March to 8 April.
“The estimated cost for the seven day roadshow occurring in Melbourne, Sydney and Byron Bay, which includes the Outback Pub setup at Federation Square, including musicians Dave Crowe and Aaron Langford (Alice Springs) and At the Dakota (Top End) performing at the display, associated promotion is $220,000.”