Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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HomeIssue 50Mereenie Loop, national gallery shine in Centre tourism plan

Mereenie Loop, national gallery shine in Centre tourism plan

OpEd by DANIAL ROCHFORD

The Destination Management Plans just released are our key road maps to the future.  In Central Australia they are broken into three documents: Barkly, Lasseter and Alice and MacDonnells.

The DMPs were developed after a robust consultation process led by Tourism Northern Territory and supported through agencies like Tourism Central Australia, local Governments and other key stakeholders.

In fact, the Central Australian Tourism Summit that TCA hosted in August was pivotal in generating ideas from the tourism industry that linked into the final DMPs.

The important decision we need to make as a region, our fork in the road moment, is either do nothing and hope for change.

Alternatively we can work together under a plan to be proactive around driving change and new results to see tourism grow again.   

The DMP gives us that plan and now it is up to us collectively to work together to see these projects implemented.

We are pleased that the two big ticket projects we see as critical in driving tourism in Central Australia are in this plan, these being the National Aboriginal Art Gallery and the Mereenie Loop. 

Both of these projects were also recognised in the recently released Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission’s final report.  They are core to the long-term vision.

I can certainly see a day when someone flies into Alice Springs, visits the National Aboriginal Art Gallery and the many other great attractions in Alice Springs, then gets in their car or tour bus to goes through the West Macs and visits an array of indigenous owned tourism experiences and accommodation for a day or two.

Then it’s on to King’s Canyon culminating in a visit to Uluru. 

This will not only re-connect Uluru back with Alice Springs, but it will ensure we see greater regional dispersal and visitor expenditure right across the wider region.

It is easy to focus on this big picture, but the DMP also identifies a raft of other key projects.  

One that TCA is particularly keen on is to see the growth of the Education Tourism market. 

As a region we have already a lot of operators who provide great experiences in this space, but there is a huge room for growth.   

As a region we should own this market.  New experiences, an investment in more accommodation and combining forces to market Central Australia together will be critical.

The DMP also recognises the importance of the private sector investing in tourism.   

It is not all back to the Government to be making these changes.  That said, it is important that Government and the private sector work together to take advantage of opportunities.

I know there would be natural cynicism around “another plan” being developed for the region. 

I go back to my earlier comments that if we do nothing, we should expect the same result, but if we only see 10% of the DMP delivered we will see a major shift forward for our region.

Tourism is a jobs factory for any economy and now more than ever we need to get behind the industry to make some of these projects come to fruition. 

[Mr Rochford is the CEO of Tourism Central Australia.]

5 COMMENTS

  1. Mmmmm do nothing and get the same result? Gunner and Co have been spruiking the gallery for near five years now and all we have got is a demolition site. Go figure.

  2. One only has to travel interstate via the Outback Way to see just how far behind we are.
    The Queensland Government has a registry of all regional tourism offices so visitors can plan well before arrival.
    The obvious answer for us is a central visitors centre for the whole of the NT South of Alice to cater for all visitors – the attention grabber is the Welcome Rock, where a year or two ago I counted over 100 visitors being photographed sitting on it within an hour!
    The Hall of Fame has everything that interstate visitors centres have, and visitors need – copious parking for caravans, buses and cars, and TOILETS as well as temporary depositories for caravans so that visitors can come into the CBD to do their commercial activities without the hinderance of a van, or negotiating The Gap.
    Winton has something similar and their visitors centre has to be seen to be believed, and a theme, Waltzing Matilda.
    Our Hall of Fame is on the direct route into town from both Yulara, the airport and major southern capitals.
    Several times travellers’ expectations of a visitors centre have been expressed on national radio but ignored here.
    The magnificent arrangement of old, restored machinery on the main road between Longreach and Barcaldine could easily be emulated here using the pile of machinery behind the Transport Hall of Fame.
    The potential of the area between The Gap and the airport as a separate tourism precinct has been completely ignored, with the cultural centre in association with Yirara cCollege demonstrating Indigenous education (as the School of the aAir does so well), and DKA demonstrating what is possible with bush foods and medicines.
    The potential is enormous, leaving the current CBD to display the European side of our history, and current commerce.
    I suspect that the reticence of the traditional owners to accept the Anzac hill site would be removed should the cultural centre proposal be made in conjunction with the training of their youth in cultural heritage and values.
    Their preference has always been south of the Gap. What are the objections?
    Short term self interest in the CBD, without a new vision, but complaining about the lack of tourism numbers.
    The old vision is tired. But to get constructive new things going you have to convince a polly or two that it was their idea. And yes, I am a cynic.

  3. Trevor, you are not a cynic but a realist: The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts his sails.

  4. Nowhere in the brief reading of the report that I have seen is mention of the East Macs.
    Old Ambalindum (Hale River resort), Arltunga and Ross River don’t even rate a mention.
    How easy would it be to upgrade either of the two tracks from the Outback way from Gemtree into Alice via the East Macs thus opening up an even more scenic entrance into town and a new revitalised tourism precinct.
    Then add a sidetrack into a very progressive Indigenous town (Santa Teresa) and then to a new upmarket Territory wide visitors complex at the Hall of Fame.
    Very few if any people or planners have recognised the significance of the Outback Way and the area south of The Gap in the future of this town.
    The Outback Way represents perhaps the shortest route between Brisbane and the West for both tourism and heavy transport, yet does not rate a mention in either tourism or infrastructure planning.
    Yet another example of the lack of far sighted visionary thinking from both this and the previous two governments.
    In addition, what ever happened to the report into the need for industrial land? Perhaps we don’t need anymore so long as we have the RL rating, not withstanding the corrugations emerging in the bitumen on Col. Rose Drive which was never designed for road trains.
    Add that to the long list of lack of visionary thinking. There have been so many missed opportunities for economic sustainable development and one has to wonder just where we are heading?

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