The Ayers Rock Resort is set to undergo a major revitalisation with the new owner, the Indigenous Land Council, allocating more than $20 million to make the asset attractive to tourists.
Koos Klein, managing director of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, said the resort planned to open a new convention centre, spa and, eventually, a golf course to attract high-spending international visitors.
The world’s largest hotel operator, Accor, will partner Voyages to provide a full range of services. Accor will particularly concentrate on opening up new markets for the resort, boosting domestic leisure and conference demand, and working with the resort to boost career opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
New initiatives to boost the resort’s international and domestic popularity will include:
– $4.9 million investment in the national indigenous training academy at Ayers Rock by the federal government that will create 200 indigenous positions at Ayers Rock Resort and 100 traineeships annually with graduates to be placed within Accor’s national network of 160 hotels.
– Major promotion of the resort in emerging Asian markets.
– First-ever charter flight from China (in January 2012).
– Opening of new conference & exhibition centre in August 2012.
– Extensive refurbishment of hotels, starting with Sails in the Desert Hotel.
– The launch of a new ‘under the stars’ five-star dining experience (called Tali Wiru).
– Introduction of new activities and experiences.
– Establishment of a pioneering Indigenous Training Academy to develop the careers of over 300 indigenous Australians in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Ayers Rock Resort is the largest integrated resort complex in Australia, consisting of five hotels – Sails in the Desert, Desert Gardens Hotel, Outback Pioneer & Lodge, Emu Walk Apartments and Lost Camel Hotel. The hotels will retain their names, but will be aligned to corresponding brands in Accor’s portfolio. The addition of Ayers Rock Resort will boost Accor’s Australian network to over 160 hotels and will add to Accor’s Northern Territory presence, which currently comprises hotels in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs.
Accor will bring to Ayers Rock Resort the world’s most comprehensive sales, marketing and distribution network, a significant presence in the resort’s traditional markets, and a leading position in key emerging markets such as China and India. Accor also has the largest network of hotels and resorts in Australia, and the country’s most effective loyalty programs, which will play an important part in reinvigorating the Resort’s domestic tourism market.
In addition, Ayers Rock Resort will leverage Accor’s expertise in indigenous employment. Accor pioneered indigenous employment in the Australian hotel industry when it launched its nationwide Indigenous Employment Program in 2001. In the past decade, the company has provided employment opportunities for over 600 Indigenous Australians, providing crucial job training programs.
“Since the Indigenous Land Corporation purchased Ayers Rock Resort earlier this year we have been looking at a comprehensive range of measures to rejuvenate what is one of Australia’s most important tourism assets,” said Mr Klein. “We are developing a new vision for the resort, with new directions, new activities, a program of major refurbishments and upgrades and a far reaching program to involve far greater numbers of indigenous Australians at the resort.
“We want to complement the unique nature of the destination with unique services. Our mission goes well beyond attracting tourists to Uluru. We are committed to investing in the development of indigenous employment and tourism businesses, which is why a fundamental aspect of the agreement with Accor is to enable trainees of our National Indigenous Training Academy to further their careers by working in Accor’s extensive hotel network. This should significantly boost the presence of Indigenous Australians in the hotel and tourism sectors.”
Accor Australia vice president, Simon McGrath, said the partnership with Ayers Rock Resort provided the company with an exceptional opportunity to help advance Australia’s tourism industry.
“Ayers Rock Resort is one of Australia’s greatest tourism assets and a fundamental driver for our inbound industry, so it is essential that we reposition the product and attract new markets,” said Mr McGrath. “We have an extensive presence in Ayers Rock Resort’s traditional and emerging markets and this provides a very focused and cost-effective means of generating new business for the resort.
“Most significantly, however, we have demonstrated our commitment to advancing indigenous causes through our pioneering Indigenous Employment Program and our Reconciliation Action Plan. We believe that indigenous Australians should have far greater involvement in the Australian tourism and hospitality industries and Ayers Rock resort provides the perfect opportunity to demonstrate this commitment.”