AUSTRALIA'S Northern Territory (NT) is ready to step up its MICE strategy now that international air connections have "stabilised" and more suitable products are available.
NT’s existing daily Jetstar service from Singapore to state capital Darwin was joined in November by Malaysia Airlines’ four-weekly flights between Kuala Lumpur and Darwin. SilkAir will boost its frequency between Singapore and Darwin from four to five times weekly come June and upgrade its aircraft for this route to the new Boeing 737-800 from October, said Tourism NT's international marketing executive, Philip Haines.
Hotel developments are advancing too. H Hotel and Élan Soho Suites will boost Darwin’s room inventory with 186 rooms and 168 rooms respectively. Hilton Worldwide, which has taken over three properties in Darwin from InterContinental Hotels Group, now operates Hilton Darwin, DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin, and DoubleTree by Hilton Darwin in addition to its existing by Hilton Alice Springs.
Halikos Hospitality, which manages H Hotel, is spending A$750,000 (US$661,200) in phase one to refurbish Crab Claw Island Resort, 90 minutes from Darwin, to package with its 800 hotel rooms and serviced apartment units in the capital, according to general manager Geoff Weeks.
To cater to corporate meeting groups from China, Marrakai Luxury All Suites, a 10-minute walk from the Darwin Convention Centre, has engaged a Mandarin-speaking staff member.
To reach out to new buyers from Asia-Pacific, Great Southern Rail will be attending AIME for the first time this year, said Claire Sim, general manager.
“We have been promoting to European (and Japanese) incentive groups…for a long time and are now looking to grow the South-east Asian market, in particular Singapore and Malaysia,” she said.
“Incentive groups can travel on The Ghan’s two-night weekly departures through the heart of Australia from Darwin to Alice Springs and ending in Adelaide, and participate in off-train bonding and teambuilding activities. (It) is suitable for satellite meetings and exclusive board meetings for between eight and 10 people,” she explained.