The Northern Territory government is spending $2.5 million on a new tourism campaign as it throws another lifeline to a sector whose financial recovery is expected to take years.
Coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions have ravaged local tourism operators, with Tourism NT pointing to recent figures showing a 62 per cent drop in domestic overnight visits to the NT.
“That doesn’t take into consideration the international visitation losses, which from later this month will be a whole year of lost international visitation,” Tourism NT’s Tony Quarmby said.
“Monetarily, that equates to about $1.3 billion lost to the economy.”
To claw back the lost revenue, the NT government on Monday unveiled a new multimillion-dollar campaign, “Seek Different”, intended to drive up domestic visitation.
“Twelve months ago we started to feel the impacts of coronavirus and COVID-19 in Australia and not long after that the Northern Territory closed its borders,” Tourism Minister Natasha Fyles said.
“Since then, government and industry have worked together in partnership to support an industry that has been particularly hard hit and devastated by the COVID-19 global pandemic.”
Ms Fyles said the $2.5 million visual campaign, which includes broadcasts in cinemas, television, social media and three weeks of travel segments on Channel 10, would run until mid-April.
It is welcome news to Pyndan Camel Tracks owner-operator Marcus Williams, who said the pandemic had created a very difficult period for his business.
“I ended up closing the business for a good six weeks,” he said.
“But I would much rather close my business and make no money than to have one person die of the virus, and I still stand by that.”
Mr Williams said various supports at both levels of government – including JobKeeper and the NT government’s tourism voucher scheme – helped his business stay afloat.
“We have had a decrease of anywhere between 50 to 60 per cent, but I’m still making enough money to pay my bills,” he said.
“When they started to roll out the vouchers and opened up the borders again, that was a saving grace.
“I am one of the lucky ones.”
Mr Williams welcomed the latest campaign and said it would make a sizeable impact interstate.
“Any form of advertising is good,” he said.
“I’m feeling a lot more confident about this year than what I was eight months ago.
“I could have sworn I was going to be out of business this year.”
Mr Quarmby said it would take at least a year or two for the industry to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.
“It is going to be a staggered rebound, so the flights will have to be picked up and you’ll need demand.”