Darwin must be more competitive against its neighbours to the north, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says, as the NT Government flags plans to drive down flight costs.
A $103 million tourism package, announced by the Territory Labor Government, will set aside more than $10 million for "cooperative marketing" with key domestic and international airlines and supporting sustainable airline services.
"We must attract more visitors to create local jobs and put money into the pockets of Territorians," Minister for Tourism and Culture Lauren Moss said.
"This marketing boost will also strengthen the viability of established air-routes and increase demand to establish new routes and attract new carriers."
An additional $1.6 million has been set aside for destination marketing.
Speaking in Darwin, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said it was an "important announcement", but the NT could not rest on its laurels, and needed to be more competitive against neighbouring destinations like Bali.
"Some people say 'Build it and they will come'. No, they won't," he said.
"You have to have the infrastructure, you need to have the marketing right to encourage people to come to this destination."
"Tourism is very competitive. The NT and Darwin are competing against places like Bali which is very cheap and has great infrastructure behind it."
Darwin must be a 'destination in its own right'
Mr Joyce said the NT should model itself off the Tasmanian experience, where authorities had built infrastructure to support visitation during the peak tourism season.
He said the cost of flights were higher in the NT because of the "lack of scale" among airports and a "seasonal imbalance".
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the Government's $26.5 million SMART marketing campaign was designed to drive tourism numbers, and he would meet with Mr Joyce tomorrow to discuss his concerns.
"One of the things we can do to drive down the cost of airlines is the making of Alice Springs and Darwin a destination in their own right. That's a medium to long-term outcome," he said.
"In the short-term, it's driving visitor numbers. The marketing that we're doing with the airlines … will help reduce the pressure on those airlines and tickets."
Ms Moss said the Government was focused on boosting its efforts in the Singapore market, and increased marketing would help drive those tourism numbers.
"Singapore is incredibly important to us strategically, not only as where a lot of airlines hub, but it's also a market that's really close to us," she said.
"We want to make sure we're enticing those people to the territory for a long weekend."