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Australia's Outback Is Calling

May 21, 2007 By: Mark Rogers Travel Agent

Northern Territory offers rugged natural beauty and Aboriginal culture

Travel Agent recently caught up with Marie Tetlow, chief executive of Tourism Northern Territory, while in Los Angeles promoting the region she describes as "Australia's outback—the quintessential Australian experience." Between Western Australia and Queensland, the Northern Territory is twice the size of Texas. With 204,000 people, the Northern Territory accounts for less than one percent of Australia's total population, and Aboriginal people make up 30 percent of its population. Longitude 131 offers immersions in the wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

"The Northern
has rock art, fabulous nature, lots of open
space—it's a great choice for families and couples," says Tetlow. She
provided a snapshot of a typical Northern
visitor: "They're looking for more
than a vacation—they're experience seekers beyond the 'fly and flock'
crowd," she explains. "They're into self-development,
college-educated, Internet savvy, with disposable income." Tetlow adds
that they're actively targeting university alumni groups and members of the
Smithsonian Society.

Representatives from Venture North Australia were also at the meeting with Tetlow.
"We can arrange tours for as few as one person," says Brendan
Bainbridge, director of Venture North Australia. "It's a cross-cultural
experience—we go to areas that aren't overrun." Bainbridge describes his
tours as being ideal for families and special interest groups, especially those
interested in viewing rock art in southern and central Kimberly. "For
visitors to have an authentic outback experience, they have to sacrifice some
luxuries," advises Bainbridge. The travel agent liaison for Venture North
Australia is Director Nerida Hilly. She can be reached at [email protected]. Dreaming

The average visitor to Australia
spends 10 to 14 days, while the average length of stay in the Northern Territory is three to four days.
Tetlow recommends visitors devote at least three days to exploring the Northern Territory and one day in Darwin, the region's capital.

"Only two percent of outbound visitors to Australia come from the U.S.,"
Tetlow says. "The long-haul flight is the main barrier." Competitive
airfare is also a consideration. However, Qantas has re-established Aussie
Airpass, priced from $1,099 (plus taxes and charges), which is an encouraging
sign. The pass provides a roundtrip international flight, plus three flights
within Australia.
The price varies according to season, initial destination within Australia, as well as airport and region in the U.S.

Tetlow adds that lodging in the Northern Territories is mid-range for the
most part, with three-and four-star properties being common. Luxury
accommodations can be found at Longitude
, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

"We have an education program for agents, Northern
Territory Specialist, which is a subsection of the Aussie Specialist
program," says Tetlow. Visit or
for more information.

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