31 July 2008

"A new era" for Kakadu tourism

Kakadu, the Northern Territory’s famous national park will be taken in a new direction to rejuvenate its identity, reports the Age.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Kakadu’s indigenous owners have designed a campaign to refresh the national park’s historical and indigenous image to its world-wide tourist market.  Their aim is to encourage tourists to stay longer and indulge in the culture and knowledge that local Aborigines are now willing to share.

Mr Garrett will reveal plans for the new marketing strategy at a billabong near Nourlangie Rock today.  The newspaper reports the park’s logo and new identity will focus on the Rainbow Serpent, which according to Dreamtime knowledge still sleeps in the world-heritage listed park. 

The new campaign has taken three years to develop, and was a combined effort between indigenous owners, local territory and federal governments, and tourists companies.  

Kakadu covers 20,000 square kilometres, and tourists complain they do not have enough time to see all its attractions, including flood plains, monsoon forests, savannah woodland, billabongs, and tropical rivers.  The park attracts more than 220,000 visitors a year who tend to stay around one to two days.  The campaign will aim to extend their stay to three to five days or more. 

Andy Ralph, a local tourism operator, said international visitors to the area are looking for a cultural experience.  "They want to meet Aboriginal people in Kakadu, they want to sit down and talk with them, they want to have dinner with them …" he told the newspaper.

International tourists to Australia need an Australia Travel Visa, except for New Zealand passport holders.  Visitors wishing to travel the country for longer will be able to apply for a Long-stay Tourist Visa, which is valid for a period of 12 months.  The Short-stay Tourist Visa, or ETA, is valid for three months only.  The conditions for both visas mean that tourists cannot work at any time during their stay in Australia.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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