Aussie Northern Territory gov’t asks for federal help to boost tourism

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Tourism representatives from Australia’s Northern Territory have recently asked the federal government for assistance in boosting the territory’s ailing tourism sector, calling for better transport links from the nation’s other major cities.

In a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia, Rick Allert from Kakadu Tourism said the world-famous region was being shunned by domestic travelers.

He said that while the Northern Territory has some of the most spectacular and pristine scenery in the world, poor road transport links and non-desirable arrival and departure times for domestic flights to the territory’s capital city, Darwin, were negatively affected the tourism industry.

“A key reason for the extended period of decline has been the accommodation and flight situation in Darwin, which is the primary gateway city to Kakadu,” Allert’s submission, published in local media on Friday, said.

“It is absolutely essential then that the region’s world-class attractions are actually available for visitors to experience.

The committee’s chairman and federal MP Warren Entsch agreed that more needed to be done to make the Northern Territory an attractive place to travel, indicating that it wasn’t a shortage of flights which was the problem – it was the timing.

From major cities Melbourne and Sydney, the flight time to Darwin is around four and a half hours, meaning some carriers choose to fly overnight ‘red eyes’.

“It’s not just the frequency (of flights), it’s also the timing,” he said, “Geographically, it makes it a little difficult to deal with that, but nevertheless it’s worth considering.

Meanwhile, Alastair Shields, CEO of the NT Department of Tourism, said the ‘peak season needed to be extended so that travelers weren’t turned off by high numbers of fellow tourists.

“It’s about access to prime tourism sites, so that there can be earlier access in the start of the tourism season and it can continue for longer,” Shields told the committee.

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