COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
The open letter telling readers of three newspaper in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane that “Alice Springs is a great place to visit” starts with the words “in response to recent stories about travel warnings for Alice Springs”.
Surely, that should be “in response to recent travel warnings” – unless, of course, this is yet again an occasion of the people charged with representing our tourism industry shooting the messenger. Would the letter writers have preferred that journalists don’t inform their readers?
The 12 signatories of the letter, nine of whom don’t live in Alice Springs, then proceed to proclaim: “The people of Alice Springs are warm, friendly and passionate about their beautiful town” … and so on.
Yes? Who doubted that? By now reader Joe Blow, always firmly convinced that The Alice is a pretty terrific place, would be fairly confused: Why do they have to tell us all that in a paid advertisement?
Nowhere does the open letter deal with the fact that it was foreign governments that issued the warning, and nowhere does it deal with the reasons for those warnings, which may well be an issue of life and death.
Perhaps the above mentioned industry representatives, instead of spending much time patting themselves and each-other on the back, could embark on initiatives of tangible benefit to the town.
Here are some to ponder. No doubt there are many more:-
Over the years there have been many suggestions to promote and make more accessible the dozen magnificent gullies on the southern flank of the ranges, leading to their crest from which the views are breath taking.
These ravines are rivalling King’s Canyon in their beauty.
The base of the closest one is a short walk from the tourist precinct (albeit access is currently blocked by the council tip). These ravines could be an ideal attraction to keep tourists here for a few more days.
The one thing most overseas people, and urban Australians for that matter, enjoy in The Centre is THAT night in the swag, around a campfire and under the sky full of stars. Among the multitude of suitable locations for that, none is closer than the bed of the Todd River in the middle of town, part of it adjacent to the major hotels. “Come and sleep in our creek” should capture the imagination and raise the curiosity of many intending travellers.
The events that kindle travel warnings are nearly always linked to alcohol abuse. Former alderman David Koch has, some time ago, to put the idea “out there,” suggested limiting take-away to one day a week, the day before most welfare payments are made. At the same time, under the bona-fide traveller principle, take-way liquor could be available to tourists 24/7. Should that be trialled?
Tourists are inconvenienced by the current opening hours which have little impact on solving the town’s biggest problem. And we wouldn’t need POSIs and BRDs and whatever acronym is in fashion at the time.
Also – turning the Mall into a place where people want to be.
Cue for the nay-sayers that it can’t be done.
Actions are better than words, especially if they cost the tax-paying public nearly $26,000, paid to out-of-town media, as was the case with the open letter.
UPDATE March 30, 3:15pm
When asked what its answer is to people inquiring about personal safety issues, the media section of the local police quoted Acting Commander Neil Hayes:
“Alice Springs is overall a safe place to live, however like everywhere, people should also be aware of their own personal safety and limit their risk of opportunistic offending. Any message that reinforces safety is positive.
“We continue to work hard to ensure that Alice Springs and surrounds is a safe place to live and visit for all residents and tourists alike.”