By ERWIN CHLANDA
That is the clear – even if inadvertent – pitch of a media release by NT Airports this morning, enthusiastically supported by NT Tourism Minster Lauren Moss.
Ian Kew, CEO of NT Airports, is quoted: “With the commencement of Qantas’s inaugural service between Uluru and Darwin today, for the first time the Territory’s iconic attraction of Uluru will be directly linked with the Territory’s capital, Darwin.”
“It is expected the new service will be very attractive to time-poor Asian and European travellers. Travelling to Uluru via Darwin improves their options, cutting their travel time up to five hours.”
The twice weekly service between Uluru, Darwin and Adelaide is “giving visitors an option of a three or four-night stay, perfect for Darwinians and international visitors travelling via Darwin to Uluru.
“The direct flights from Darwin to Uluru will give both locals and international tourists extra options when planning their visit to the Red Centre. For the many Territorians who have never visited Uluru, this is a great chance for them to tick it off their bucket list,” Mr Kew is quoted.
Minister Moss is clearly over the moon: “Direct flights between Darwin and Uluru will be an absolute game changer for Top End tourism, positioning Darwin as a major gateway to Australia.
“It will mean more international visitors stopping in Darwin on their way to the Rock, providing an economic boost to tourism operators, accommodation providers and retail businesses.
“We know that more visitors to Uluru also means more visitors throughout Central Australia; more than half of all international holiday visitors to Uluru also spend at least one night in Alice Springs.”
Ms Moss doesn’t explain how yet another service overflying Alice Springs will encourage that practice.
“New air services is a good sign that our Turbocharging Tourism investment is starting to pay off. It has allowed us to develop stronger partnerships with airlines, growing demand for services,” Ms Moss says in a media release.
Mr Kew is on the same wavelength: “This is a huge opportunity to turbocharge the tourism industry.
“Now holiday makers can fly into Darwin, spend a few days in the Top End and Kakadu, and then fly direct to Uluru for an ultimate Territory adventure.”
Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David is quoted in the NT Airports release: “We’re seeing more demand for travel to Uluru from international and interstate tourists than we have seen in a long time.
“The direct flights offer a new convenient option from Adelaide and Darwin, saving travellers up to five hours’ time instead of travelling on flights via other cities.”
Voyages CEO Grant Hunt is quoted: “Uluru has experienced a huge leap in visitation in recent years.”
Tourism figures for Alice Springs have been poor for many years. We will publish an update of statistics tomorrow.
We are inviting comment from Tourism Central Australia chairperson Dale McIver and Ms Moss.
Photo: Qantas promotional image, showing Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).
See the Red Centre without setting foot in Alice Springs
By ERWIN CHLANDA