FROM Darwin to Uluru and Alice Springs, a range of exciting new initiatives are set to boost the business events sector for Australia’s Top End. These include the launch of a business event support fund for qualified business events, strong growth in aviation connections from domestic and international carriers and the release of new NT products.

The Northern Territory Business Events Support Fund, launched this year, has so far seen $802,000 invested in 17 events, which will bring approximately 5,500 delegates to the NT, primarily in 2019. Administered by the NT Convention Bureau, the fund offers financial assistance of $100 per delegate for qualified business events which are at the consideration or bidding stage. According to the NT Convention Bureau: “The funding is focused on events which align with the Northern Territory’s priority business and industry strengths which include the health, tourism, agribusiness, land management, mining, oil and gas, renewable energy, education, defence and creative industries sectors”.

New aviation connections into the NT have provided easier access for delegates and incentive participants. The new Qantas twice per week Uluru route will connect the Rock with Darwin and Adelaide and is set to draw more people to Central Australia from Asia and Europe via Darwin. Flights between Alice Springs and Darwin will also be upgraded to B737 aircraft rather than B717s, delivering up to an extra 1,300 seats per week on the route, including business class. The changes will come into effect from 31 March 2019. Donghai Airlines from Shenzhen, China also commenced direct flights between Shenzhen and Darwin, along with domestic carriers Jetstar and Virgin Australia which launched new services into the NT.

On the hotel front, Darwin will be welcoming a new Westin hotel in 2021. The property is set to feature eight levels of luxury with water and city views. The hotel will have 240 rooms, three dining venues, a bar, 1,100m2 of meeting and event space along with an executive lounge.

In terms of new incentive offerings, Paspaley Air Tours has launched a new scenic flight tour in Darwin aboard the Grumman Mallard Flying Boat, which provides resort and fishing vessel transfers and can be chartered for business event groups.

Additionally, tour operator and celebrity from National Geographic’s TV series Outback Wrangler Matt Wright has started “Matt Wright Explore the Wild” private tours which combine NT’s wildlife and landscapes with options for conference and incentive groups.

Following its million-dollar renovation, Pee Wees at the Point features a new casual lounge for cocktails and small plate dining and an outdoor area overlooking Fannie Bay. Its waterfront location offers views across the bay to Mindil Beach and at night the lights of the Darwin city. The venue has capacity for up to 400 guests for cocktails and 300 seated.

Located at Ayers Rock Resort, the Uluru Meeting Place offers conference facilities, breakout spaces, boardrooms and multiple outdoor options. The conference centre is complemented by dining options, a range of Indigenous experiences and luxury accommodation at Sails in the Desert hotel. Business events clients can choose from a suite of experiences including touring in Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park plus Sounds of Silence or Tali Wiru dining experiences under the stars.

The Field of Light installation at Uluru has been extended until 31 December 2020, due to strong marketplace interest. It will provide an ongoing added incentive for planners to bring a business event to the Red Centre and Voyages Ayers Rock Resort.

Another highlight is the outdoor festival, Parrtjima — A Festival in Light held in Alice Springs 05 to 14 April 2019. The event provides an off-site venue and activity option for conference and incentive groups visiting Alice Springs at festival time.

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