Stop government funding promoting Rock: Steve Brown


p2333-Lily-Ji-at-UluruBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The government needs to re-think its policy of heavily promoting the Ayers Rock Resort at taxpayers’ expense, according to the CLP candidate for Araluen, Steve Brown.
He says tourism sources have told him that there is an agreement with the resort’s owners that obliges the government to fund advertising of the resort, and he will now ask questions about this.
“I’ve made it very clear on a number of occasions in comments published by the Alice Springs News Online that I regard The Alice as being in direct competition with the Rock for the tourist dollar,” says Mr Brown.
“I believe the fly in fly out couple of days maximum stay style of tourism promoted by the Rock does the Centralian tourist product immense harm.
“It is substantially responsible for the decline in the Alice based tourist industry which was originally centred around the Alice being the destination, with the Rock as an add on, one small part of a 10 day stay in the Centre.
“I believe we should return to that model. I believe the Territory Government should aim its promotions at that market as quite obviously the wider product would generate a much greater dollar for the Territory.
“If I’m elected to Government and for that matter even if I’m not, I’ll continue to lobby government to direct their marketing at the wider product,” says Mr Brown.
He was responding to questions from Alice Springs News Online: “You argued that a government funded facility such as Blatherskite Park should not be allowed to compete with private enterprise. Do you apply that to the Ayers Rock Resort?
“Do you oppose the NT Government spending much of its $50m a year tourism funding on Ayers Rock Resort which is owned by a Federal government instrumentality and is in direct opposition to most tourism enterprises in Alice Springs?”
PHOTO:  Popular Chinese actress, model and television presenter Lily Ji in a Tourism NT promotion. The three minute clip “‪Lily Ji Sizzle Reel‬” shows mostly the Top End and Darwin, about 50 seconds (nearly one-third of the total) of Uluru, six seconds of other Central Australian landscapes and no shots of Alice Springs.


  1. My comments were never intended as a criticism of the Giles Government which of course is stuck with inherited contractual obligations they cannot avoid.
    The thoughtless and extremely costly dissection of the Central Australian Tourist product began a long before their term.
    Many within that Government and new arrivals in our wider community are unaware of our local tourism story, where it all began and most importantly how we ended up putting all our eggs in the one basket called the “Rock” and what a huge impact that had on the wider Centralian industry.
    Many would be blissfully unaware of the promise from by Paul Everingham, Chief Minister at the time, made with hand on heart saying that there will never be direct flights to the Rock, a promise made because he was fully aware of the threat that those flights posed to the wider industry.
    There is no going back of course but what we can do is adapt to the existing situation by redeveloping the Alice Springs based product.
    This of course requires a massive extra effort in marketing us as a separate identity to the Rock.
    As an election candidate it is one of the issues I intend to push very hard indeed with Government.
    I am also pleased to acknowledge that the Giles Government has already committed funds to further promoting the Alice, the upcoming “Festival of Light” is intended to focus world attention on our product, it’s a great start for what has to be a massive and continued marketing exercise for the Alice.

  2. I’ve visited Alice twice and intend to again before too long.
    Uluru is a great place to visit, but I only went the first time and that was from from Alice.
    It’s a fairly long drive but plenty to see along the way and interesting commentary from the driver and stops at sights and the roadhouse.
    Second time I stayed in Alice and there’s plenty of other great places to visit from and in Alice, in a day.
    And better restaurants and shops and entertainment.
    So don’t rush and do go to Alice Springs.

  3. With Alice Springs’ current reputation and crime rate it would be a hard sell to get tourist to come through and stay. Until this is fixed it’s going to be an uphill struggle.
    Not to mention the obvious and in your face drinking issue of the town. Why wouldn’t you fly straight in and out in complete safety …

  4. Ps.: And as a current resident of Alice Springs it is embarrassing that the first thing anyone tells family and visitors is “don’t walk around at night time”.
    Sounds like they are in a horror movie.
    Even some taxi drivers tell people this when they get picked up from the airport.

  5. I agree with Steve regarding the advertising of Ayers Rock, and Alice Springs not mentioned as a destination as it was before.
    Alice Springs has soo much to do and see, but you need the time. Plus the events that come and are here, i.e. the Finke Desert Race, Masters Games, all need to be also added the extra time needed, that can be seen and done in Alice Springs.

  6. While we are on the subject of misappropriation of tax payers’ money, why don’t we call out the CLP Government who is prompting Unconventional Shale Gas Fracking at great expense in print, online and on TV!

  7. @ Evan (Posted June 10, 2016 at 12:38 pm) is closer to the mark with his “long shot” call for an international airport at Alice Springs than he would realise.
    There is a long history to this idea stretching back almost half a century.
    In the late 1960s the Commonwealth engaged an American consultancy firm Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co to assess the tourism industry in Central Australia and make recommendations for future developments. The Northern Territory Reserves Board took advantage of this opportunity to engage Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co to make a similar study and report for the Ayers Rock-Mt Olga National Park, too.
    The HKF Report was released in two volumes in December 1969. The report dealing with Ayers Rock – Mt Olga National Park (as it was then known) recommended that the motels located at the base of the Rock be replaced by a tourist village in order to better control the impact of increasing visitor numbers on the environment. This was the genesis of Yulara.
    The HKF Report for Alice Springs and the surrounding region made numerous recommendations for improving the tourism industry, and over time most of these have to varying degrees been implemented. However, one significant recommendation, namely to relocate Darwin International Airport to Alice Springs, has never been seriously contemplated.
    At the time the Centre, including Alice Springs, was by far the major tourist destination in the NT. It’s worth noting that Alice Springs’ population was less than 10,000 residents when the HKF Report was underway but it was expanding rapidly.
    If the Alice Springs Airport had been upgraded to an international facility as recommended by the HKF Report, we would never have faced the difficulty that we now have of competition with Yulara.
    It’s not for want of trying, there have been numerous calls to upgrade Alice Springs Airport to international standard during ensuing years. Perhaps the most notable example was the document “Alice Springs International Airport” by the NT Transport & Works in late 1988 which was published at the height of Central Australia’s tourism industry.
    I believe Alice Springs Airport is easily capable of becoming an international facility but it’s most unlikely to occur under the current private ownership – it would be too big a risk to undertake. It requires public investment through the government, whether that be Federal or the Territory is a moot point, but it ought to be done.

  8. People in Alice Springs need to wake up to themselves. The infrastructure and the services are poor. Even though the money has been spent, we need a more functional council and need to welcome tourist in town.
    In town we need parking for people with caravans and trailers. We have none. We all so need to distance ourselves from Steve Bown’s hare-brain comments. At the moment you can fly from Sydney to New Zealand for $150. As I live in town, I never see places like Ross River or Glen Helen advertised, our tourism information centre is poor, no parking. If we want tourists we need to cater for them, and stop the council from competing against the caravan park owners.
    What we need to do is how the other successful tourist towns are doing it.

  9. @ Fred the Philistine might need to get out around the planet a bit more. His appraisal of sophisticated NZ Tourism and social integration is pure fantasy from what I saw a few week ago over there.
    The fact is most places in the world – including Africa, America, Brazil, etc … have a few social issues with crime. Tourists don’t care about that stuff … they travel to those places anyway.
    It is BS that anti social behaviour in Alice Springs stops tourism from thriving.

  10. Tourists come they are interested in our town and what happens here, in Aboriginal culture which the Chief Minister and others want to destroy (climbing a sacred site against the cultural mores is a great way to learn about culture he reckons, Steve Brown thinks the same).
    They want to know what we’re into but the tourist info mob won’t let you put up a flyer in their office to advertise, you have to be a member. Stupid.

  11. @ Maths (Posted June 12, 2016 at 8:26 am): You, and so many others like you, are wrong. It was not the case that climbing Uluru was forbidden because it is a sacred site. Aboriginal people once used to climb the Rock, not least because water could sometimes be found up there. In a usually waterless environment, it was essential that all people had access to it for their survival.
    There’s no question that Uluru was significant to Aboriginal people, in fact this was a major factor in establishing the Ayers Rock-Mt Olga National Park in 1958 (the first park in the NT).
    It was intended to control the impact of increasing visitor numbers at the Rock during a time when it was “fashionable” to take souvenirs of Aboriginal rock art or write graffiti on cave walls.
    This was a problem that plagued numerous popular destinations throughout the NT, committed as much by local Territory residents as it was by tourists.
    But it was not the case that climbing on Uluru was forbidden for cultural reasons, that is a much more recent “construct” of the managers and manipulators of our times.

  12. Thank you Alex. The fiction of banning the climb for cultural reasons at Uluru has gone on long enough.

  13. @ Byjingalo: I have traveled the world, and what I am saying is that there are more better value places to visit that Alice Springs. It is far too dear to come here. We need to somehow reduce the costs.
    I have relations in South Africa, and there are places there you would not dare to walk alone.
    All places have their no go zones. However it comes down to the cost of getting there and spending in the town.
    The Ghan ride from Adelaide to Darwin is the same price as for going to England twice! Let’s face the facilities and the council in Alice Springs is very poor.
    As we all know Alice Springs is a service town for the Indigenous people, which brings in more money than the tourists. Let’s be honest.

  14. Bit of an update: Since this article has been published, I have very reliably been informed that there are no contractual obligations entitling The Rock to a particular share of the advertising dollar. Apparently it’s worked out on a dollar for dollar basis so the biggest spenders get the biggest help. Whether this is a better or worse scenario is a matter of judgement, I suppose.
    “No obligations,” at least, gives us leeway to change what I now see as a self-perpetuating cycle where the big guy is inevitably advantaged over the smaller.
    This is where I argue that Government should be more aloof with an eye to the bigger picture rather than the bigger spender – something I will be pushing hard to Government.
    @ Maths: Aboriginal Culture is certainly of great interest too many of the visitors who come to the Centre and as such presents an enormous opportunity for aspiring Aboriginal people looking for a way out of the bleak futureless misery of welfare dependency.
    Traditional culture stories and beliefs present an opportunity for many Aboriginal people to share their heritage with pride, while at the same time creating jobs, wealth making opportunities, allowing people to succeed in the 21st century world in which they live.
    “Culture”, which by the way we all have, no matter from whence we came, culture is not meant to be worn round the neck like a millstone, holding you back preventing you from achieving a successful life in the world in which you live as opposed to the world in which your ancestors lived.
    Many local Aboriginal people see their culture as opportunity for modern generations to make their way in today’s world, sharing their stories traditions history with tourists on guided tours or through selling arts as visitors walk through and immerse themselves in the spectacular countryside of Central Australia that we all love.
    Tourism, whether it be over under or across country, is probably the least intrusive way to make a living from the land, and we all need to make a living.
    Walking across a mountain is no different to walking across the plain they are both part of the earth to which we all belong “equally”, and if it’s wearing down from foot traffic we are all equally in a lot of trouble.
    @ Fred: Do you ever actually read what you write? Certainly gives me plenty of head shaking exercise. Huh?

  15. I said this last year: Why is the government funding a PRIVATE COMPANY at the expense of the whole region?

  16. Camped at Yulara camp site, paid for three nights so got discount. Decided to stay an extra night as we noticed you get the discount price for subsequent nights (standard else where), but were told NO, we have to pay top dollar for fourth night.
    We said it’s on the net, others get it. NO, they have not, was the reply. On principle we packed and on leaving we called into the office and showed them the post.
    They said NO, that’s not right.
    We said its in black and white, everyone sees it, AND you’ve done nothing about it. UNBELIEVIABLE ATTITUDE.
    We left thinking how incompetent they were. Imagine how we felt when we heard they were getting a $65m grant to bail them out.
    [ED – We have invited comment from the Indigenous Land Corporation.]


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