Having stars in their eyes has paid off for one NT small business which has been awarded a $50,000 grant to build a stargazing facility.
Alice Springs eco-tourist business Earth Sanctuary will build a public space observatory and private pods - equipped with a double bed and private decking - for studying the night sky with the money.
Chief Minister and Tourism Minister Adam Giles said the project aimed to capitalise on the emerging niche market of space discovery tourism, and and position Central Australia as one of the world’s leading stargazing destinations.
“It is encouraging to see Earth Sanctuary working hard to position itself as a leader in providing a unique and sustainable tourism experience to not only Australians, but the rest of the world,” he said.
It was one of several diverse tourism businesses which successfully applied for a piece of the $4.75 million Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund.
The Heritage Caravan Park in Alice Springs has been awarded $9500 to build a doggy daycare facility so guests’ pets can be looked after while their owners go sightseeing for the day.
Maruku Arts in Uluru pitched for funds to build four new shade structures so that guests attending dot painting and punu-making workshops were shielded: they received $29,850.
Ooramina Homestead, about 30km from Alice Springs, was awarded $26,300 to build a new cool room and airconditioning to meet demand for more conferences and events.
In the Batchelor region a grant of $27,272 will allow the owners of the Batchelor Butterfly Farm, a business that has operated for more than 20 years – to upgrade the butterfly house with a new cover for better protection from sun and predators as well as the construction of a boardwalk with central 360-degree lookout platform.
Rum Jungle Bungalows will install solar power to their bungalows and a water bore to reduce the costs of running their business with a $30,000 grant.
Litchfield Tourist Park received $65,000 to build a new luxury two-bedroom family cabin.
In the remote Borroloola region, Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, which offers natural swimming holes, 4WD tracks and kilometres of waterways for tourists, was awarded $27,272.72 to construct a 5km pipeline from an existing bore to its 100,000 litre water tank, as well as a solar-powered water pump.
The Savannah Way Motel at Borroloola will receive the same amount to turn two standard rooms into two self-contained disability friendly rooms with kitchenettes and disabled facilities.
The grants are part of an initiative to boost tourism in the Top End and achieve a $2.2 billion visitor economy by 2020.
“This is the largest Government tourism grant program in the Territory’s history,” says Chief Minister and Tourism Minister Adam Giles.
“While visitor numbers in Central Australia have been increasing, we know there is more work to do, and this fund provides a significant boost for the NT tourism industry to help attract more visitors here and encourage them to stay longer.”