See the Red Centre without setting foot in Alice Springs


2620 Qantas pic 2 OKBy 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).


  1. Alice Springs looks wonderful from the air – no flies, no heat, no worries, especially from 35,000 ft! And no landing fees.

  2. Hey what about Alice Springs? So much for encouraging tourism in Alice. What is wrong with the tourism mob?

  3. And if you are flying the Berrimah line doesn’t count. Just how will this increase tourism to Alice? Another great idea from this guvamunt muppets.

  4. “We’re seeing more demand for travel to Uluru from international and interstate tourists than we have seen in a long time.”
    Climbing ban will kill tourism to the Rock. Alice should be positioning itself to take over!
    West Macs have much much more to offer than UluRules. Please open it up and have NT government put in some $ for marketing!

  5. Reading the article I can hear the voice of the poet Angela Wybrow
    This town is becoming like a ghost town;
    Many of our local shops are closing down.
    Once upon a time, this town was really hopping,
    But now people go elsewhere for their shopping.
    The life from our town has been sucked out,
    And nowadays there is hardly anyone about.
    Local people go to other towns and cities:
    That it has ended up this way, is a real pity.
    The town’s population is rapidly growing,
    But trade in our shops is rapidly slowing.
    Many units stand empty for years and years:
    Owners found the rents were just way too dear.
    We need some life breathed back into town;
    We need to turn this situation back around.
    Of help for new businesses, we need much more,
    So that our town can be the place it was before.

  6. Just another example of the Territory Government not looking past Darwin and its interest. Sounds good for Darwin but at the detriment of Alice.
    I’m sure if the Government cared they could have done something about this and tried to incorporate Alice more in any deals.
    At the end of the day who can blame them, instead of dealing with the social problems of Alice which is affecting the Territory’s tourist numbers they have decided to just turn the lights off in Alice and pretend like it’s not there anymore. Now they can promote a “safe” experience for tourist.
    Might be wise to purchase property in Uluru as it seems like the next boom town of the NT.

  7. All the pessimism aside, Mark Hendrickx is spot on, we need to be better than Uluru and especially now the TOs are looking to shut the climb.
    In the early 90s I was involved in the planning for the “Worlds Biggest Ground Painting” in the Tjilpa Valley at Ipolera, a joint exercise with Bardius Goldberg (of Maree Man speculation) and Herman Malbunka (both deceased).
    This ground painting was to be made from four different colour rocks of various sizes the colours of which would move with the sun and the seasons.
    It was planned to be 1.2km long and .6km wide and would showcase Aboriginal Culture (Arrernte story) from a multi-dimensional perspective.
    Qantas featured the concept in their Inflight Magazine but the cash poor NT Government expected the Feds to pay for it all.
    Chris Marshall, former CEO of Ngurratjuta, and I were joint coordinators of this project concept – it can still happen and be another key attraction for the West Macs.

  8. You can feel the change in The Alice already. The spirit is going out of the Centre.
    People are sick and tired of the infighting between Alice and Darwin with Gunner making crazy decisions and not in the best interest of Territorians country wide.
    The problems in the Alice are being ignored and Alice is suffering enough with out the flights bypassing our town.


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