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Season's Greetings to all our readers and friends of the Alice Springs News Online!

Until the beginning of February we'll be in Summer Mode, publishing mostly the comments from you and our invited panel in our Rest and Reflection series, as well as major breaking news. We'll draw your attention to these through our email alert (if you are not already a subscriber, please click on the NEWS ALERT line above – it's free).

It was a pleasure serving you in 2012, our 19th year of publication, with web traffic having increased threefold since we went online exclusively in March last year. And now we're looking forward to our 20th year: it will be a boomer, as we hope it will be for our region and all of you!

From ERWIN CHLANDA and KIERAN FINNANE.

Add Food For Thought to the holiday table

The Alice Springs News normally closes over the holidays but this time we're challenging our readers to make room for reflection about our town's future in the merriment of the season.
Our decision to go exclusively online in March has been massively vindicated by the subsequent traffic growth on our site.
Since July monthly visits increased 31% from 9906 to 13,012, and page views skyrocketed 76% from 16,920 to 29,792.
Our readers' comments section blossomed, and more than ever in our 18 years of weekly publication, we're the ideas forum of The Alice.
Each week over the festive season, when great food on the table is a pleasure, we're asking you to give Food For Thought a go as well.
Locals prominent in their field, until the end of January 2012, will set the scene for this debate each week.
Then it's over to you, to use our comment box, to agree, argue, protest, expand, praise, cane. You're not limited to just one response: Ranging far and wide will enrich the debate. Take aim at the panelists' points – as well as what other correspondents have to say.
Our usual news reporting will resume on February 2, 2012.
Till then, tell us what YOU think needs to happen in 2012, with Town Council  and Territory Parliament elections as political high-points.

Other panel members include:-

Liz Martin
CEO of the National Transport Hall of Fame.
The local champion of lateral thinking has parlayed the Hall into the town's top private and volunteer initiative. When this year visitation dropped Liz swapped focus to big functions. How can this kind of "never say die" thinking be applied to the town's current woes?

Mike Gillam
Photographer, environmental campaigner.
Why looking after our natural heritage and assets is good for our community and good for business. And how we can do it better.

Kay Eade
Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce.
When things get though the tough get going. Kay strutted a no-nonsense attitude at a string of recent public functions: Enough talk, more action.

Ian Conway
Senior Mparntwe (Alice Springs) custodian. Successful tourism operator over three decades. Toxic infighting has given native title a bad name. How can this be stopped and in what way will the town benefit from its Aboriginal heritage?
Publication December 29. Deadline December 22.

Deborah Rock
Tourism Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy says a new Tourism Strategic Plan is needed to guide the industry from 2013. Will Alice still have a tourism industry then, and what needs to happen to ensure it will? Deb has been in the tourism industry for 20 years, currently running a Bed and Breakfast, and has a history in sales, marketing, car rentals, tours, inbound and promotion in Sydney and overseas.

Bob Durnan
A community development worker with over three decades of experience in working with Aboriginal people in town camps and remote communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland. He will look forward to where we would hope to be when the sun sets on the current 10-year second phase of the Federal Intervention into Indigenous affairs in the Territory.

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