A perspective from Perth, Western Australia

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Quick rant about tourism

The tourist operators in other states complain about the lack of tourists coming their way, and in particular the lack of repeat tourists. There are repeated campaigns to get them not to stay at home, but they do. I wonder why?

As one of the determined few who goes to the non-mainstream sorta places like SA, Tas and ACT, I've found out the tourism infrastructure (with the exception of SA, which has an excellent infrastructure) just doesn't exist. You have to deal with public utilities which are downright rude to you, you can't get to anywhere nice without paying a packet unless you have a hire car, and nothing seems coordinated. In fact it's the picture of chaos! You go to tourist agencies and they try to sell you their particular tour, which of course only goes to the places they want to go to and is a whistlestop tour, only long enough to take a quick photo. Or, like Canberra, nestled right next to the Snowy Mountains, there are *no* organised tours from Canberra to the Snowy Mountains - you have to get a regular coach to somewhere else and then do it from there. The tour I'm going on around Tasmania is probably the best, and is very well run, but once you're off the tour you're once again at the mercies of the local conditions. I was trying to get to Longford and Perth (about 18km out of Launceston) but have now given up on that as an impossible prospect given the times I am there - which is silly considering I could drive there in under quarter of an hour if I had a car. So basically, self-paced tours are impossible, unlike in WA, NSW or VIC in particular where I've pretty much gone anywhere I've wanted to go within 100-200km of where I am.

In Canberra, the cafe district seems to practically shut down at 6pm in the city, and if you're lucky, after walking around for ages, you might stumble on Happy's Chinese Restaurant, which is hopelessly overcrowded (although nice decor), but actually has really good food (once they serve you). Canberra Airport services do not run on weekends and the public transport system (which is ridiculously expensive for a city of Canberra's size - roughly $10 a day on weekdays and $6 on weekends) does not extend to anywhere near there. Apart from the parliament houses they don't go to any of the tourist sites (telstra tower, space research centre, etc) - you have to get a horribly overpriced taxi to it, which may or may not come, depending on whether the taxi service operator feels helpful or not. This was particularly a problem when I nearly missed a plane and the taxi operator just wanted to sit there and argue over which suburb I was actually in. Just imagine if I was a tourist from England or somewhere.

Oh, well. Their loss.


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