Kakadu tourism on the rise

February 5th, 2019 | | industry

New data shows visitation to Kakadu National Park has reached its highest point in a decade, despite grim outlooks for the Northern Territory‘s tourism sector elsewhere.

Meryl Triggs from the Kakadu Tourism Consultative Committee said visitation numbers had risen by 6.7 per cent or 12,641 visitors to 200,577 in 2018.

That makes it the highest annual visitation to the park since 2009, according to a Parks Australia newsletter.

“They are estimates, so our visitor numbers are taken from traffic counters at the entrances to the park,”

The figures come just weeks after the park found itself in the political spotlight, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten racing to announce competing packages to revitalise Kakadu.

Worth more than $200 million each, the proposals included money to upgrade roads as well as park and camping infrastructure and secure the future of the Jabiru township beyond the expiry of its mining lease in 2021.

Domestic tourism likely to thank

Elsewhere, the prognosis for the Territory’s tourism sector has been grim.

Recent statistics from Tourism Research Australia showed domestic and international tourism to the NT had nosedived while most other states and territories improved.

Data published by Tourism NT, meanwhile, also showed that year-on-year international and domestic visitation to the Top End had fallen by 1.3 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively in the year ending September 2018.

But it showed that domestic visitation to the Kakadu-Arnhem region had improved.

Ms Triggs said the park’s own data painted a positive picture, with surveys suggesting domestic tourism was likely to thank.

“We think it’s broken the domestic market, so we’re seeing more travel from interstate, particularly New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland,” she said.

“So I think a lot of people are taking the road, they’re driving up through the centre, and we’re seeing more people coming in through the southern entrance into Kakadu as well, particularly in our peak season.”

Flights cuts a blow

Qantas and its sister company Jetstar this week announced the axing of 35 return flights to Darwin between April and late June, pointing to a significant fall in demand.

Long-time Kakadu tourism operator Sab Lord said the cuts were a blow to the sector.

“I just think it’s not good for tourism overall,” he said.

“I know the airlines have got to look at their bottom dollar, but what we’ve got to do in the Northern Territory is create that atmosphere for people that want to come up here to enjoy the Top End in the summer months.”

Ms Triggs remained hopeful the cuts wouldn’t dampen the good news.

“We’re hoping, with the flights still being as they usually are in the peak season, that won’t affect our peak season too much.”

The NT Government last year announced a $103 million package to stimulate tourism, which Tourism Minister Lauren Moss said yesterday was already succeeding.

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

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