WHILE visitor numbers are still not back to what they were pre-pandemic, the Northern Territory is confident of attracting a wave of new tourists to the region now that the scars of COVID are well and truly in the rear vision mirror.
Speaking with travelBulletin at a recent Round Up agent famil event, Tourism NT Executive Director Tony Quarmby said that one major area of focus for the Top End will be to better educate the Aussie travel trade, describing travel sellers as a “very sought-after component” in the mix.
“COVID has shown that retail travel agents give people a lot more confidence, it gives people that ability to plan what they might perceive as more complex holidays, with agents able to pull those plans together,” Quarmby said.
“But most of all, having the travel agents experience the destination, know where to go, what sort of time it takes to get to places, what sort of experiences travellers would want to do in the morning versus middle of the day and then later in the afternoon, is vital to give the consumers that confidence and education,” he added.
Advisors from across the country are currently experiencing the best of what the NT has to offer through the 2023 Round Up trip, with the group being treated to trips to many of the region’s famous gorges, canyons and watering holes near Alice Springs, helicopter rides over Kings Canyon, and of course, a trip to the jewel in the crown, Uluru.
Quarmby agreed that Uluru is still the jewel in the crown of NT’s tourism sector, however, he also pointed out that it’s important Aussie travellers are aware that beyond the most famous icon, there is so much more to the Top End to see and do.
“Uluru is a cornerstone of the region, internationally it’s still one of the most well known icons in Australia and still a large portion of Australians haven’t been out here to see it, and are yet to really understand the meaning and majestic nature of Uluru,” he said.
“But I think when you compare it with other attractions such as Kings Canyon, which really blows a lot of people away because it’s often overshadowed by the fact that Uluru is so renowned and people think, ‘oh, I’ll come in and do Uluru in a few days and fly back out’, they miss some of the biggest icons, which is Kings Canyon.”
“Travellers often get short-changed by not doing the whole loop.”
Quarmby also noted the Top End presents travellers with great deals and savings in the shoulder season – especially while international travellers remain below pre-pandemic volumes.
“People are spending more and staying longer and actually travelling further when they arrive in NT and we are really hitting records in this areas despite lower numbers,” he said.
“The fact travellers have a lot of leave built up, they have credits with travel agents, and the saved money in the bank…and with travel now being much more reliable is why people want to get out there and spend.”