Travellers will be able to obtain half-priced airfares to Darwin, Alice Springs and Uluru under the Federal Government’s $1.2 billion tourism package.
- The federal government has confirmed Darwin is included in the tourism package
- Eligible flights will run from Alice Springs, Uluru and Darwin
- The discounted tickets will be offered between April and July
Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan and Country Liberal Party NT senator Sam McMahon confirmed on Thursday that Darwin is included in the list of destinations targeted in the package.
An initial list released by the government did not include Darwin.
NT tourism operators who have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic welcomed the announcement.
The price of nearly 800,000 airline tickets will be halved with the aim of enticing Australians to travel interstate for their holidays.
Tourism Central Australia welcomed flights to Alice Springs from Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
“We’re certainly very much keen and looking forward to the upcoming season, where we’ll hopefully see a lot more people coming to Central Australia.”
Top End tourism operators expressed disappointment when the initial program list included only two outbound flights from Darwin, to Broome and Cairns.
But Senator McMahon said she spoke with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack on Wednesday evening and “demanded Darwin be added to the list”.
“I am delighted to have been able to secure this important addition to the list, which will benefit the whole of the Northern Territory,” Senator McMahon said.
The discounted tickets will be offered between April and July, for travel through until the end of September, the Territory’s prime tourist season.
“This is a real opportunity to put bums on seats and bums on beds for our tourism industry that has been on its knees for the last 12 months.”
It was a sentiment shared by the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation.
“As long as COVID is under control in Australia and we keep the same flights from the same places, it’s a good thing to get more tourists to Uluru,” said CEO Thalia Bohl-van den Boogaard.
In August last year, members of the group blocked the entrance to the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park following a flight from Brisbane — then a hotspot — landing in Yulara.
“It’s what the [Ayers Rock] Resort needs, but it’s also what our businesses need and what the community needs to make some money,” Ms Bohl-van den Boogaard said.
But Mr Rochford said he was still concerned about businesses on the cliff-face once the JobKeeper wage subsidy ends later this month.
“The support measures have not targeted these businesses, which we’re certainly concerned about.”