The Upside of Going "Down Under"
This latest journey to Australia was my second since November 2016, when I assumed the role of sales and marketing director, North America, for Myriad’s longest-standing client, Tourism Northern Territory (Tourism NT). The NT, as it’s affectionately known, is one of Australia’s seven states – although technically, due to low population numbers, the NT is a federal territory.
While the main purpose of the visit was to represent the Americas on behalf of Tourism NT at the annual Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) with my colleagues from other global offices, my travels first took me to the NT’s Top End and the capital city of Darwin. My visit to the Top End came at the conclusion of the region’s wet season, when torrential rain blankets the region. May historically marks the beginning of the dry season, when the landscape transforms, bringing out birds and wildlife and making vast areas such as Kakadu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world’s second largest national park – a place I had the pleasure of visiting – accessible.
On the way to Kakadu, jumping crocodiles amazed me on the Adelaide River, one of many rivers and bodies of water that harbor a population of 200,000 saltwater crocodiles, the largest species of crocodile in the world. I hadn’t yet seen a croc, so imagine my amazement when a small girl taunted them out of the water as they leaped for a treat. Wow.
Another highlight of my time in the Top End was a visit to the Tiwi Islands, specifically Bathurst Island. Aboriginal cultures and experiences are a defining part of a visit to the NT, and my visit to Bathurst did not disappoint. Technically Aboriginal land, the Tiwi Islands are largely off limits to non-Aboriginal people, requiring visitors to travel with tour operators who have been granted special permits. Departing from Darwin on Fly Tiwi, a small regional airline, our travel time to a dusty land strip on Bathurst was all of 20 minutes long – but landing there was a world away. Interaction with Bathurst’s people, culture, artisans and rituals for the day is by far one of my favorite NT experiences to date.
A week of destination immersion in the Outback was over, and it was time for me to head to Sydney, where the 38th annual Australian Tourism Exchange took place at the new International Convention Center. According to Tourism Australia, the organizing body, the event brought together 548 international travel companies from more than 30 countries and 555 Australian tourism businesses that conducted over 45,000 business appointments.
ATE was a fantastic opportunity to meet with North American travel buyers and media to discuss ways to market the NT in 2017–18, as well as reconnect with our Tourism NT family to discuss strategic objectives.
My experiences in the Outback and attendance at ATE gave me a wealth of valuable insights and ideas that will help our team continue to deliver for the NT.