By Laura Bradley

On Tuesday night fellow members of the media and I gathered at the South Eveleigh Rooftop Garden for Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia’s latest event – Dinner with Matthew Cameron-Smith. While sipping on Green Ant Gin and Tonics amid native botanicals, guests heard from Voyages’ CEO Mr Cameron-Smith about the current and future state of travel in the region, and what he achieved during his first 100 days in the role.

Over the past few months Uluru has engaged the family market, with visitors opting to stay in the region for longer than usual to fully immerse themselves in its experiences. Specifically, stays in the region have raised from an average of 1.75 nights to 3.1

Mr Cameron-Smith said the flagship experience ‘Sounds of Silence’ has been booked out each night and a trend of repeat visitors to the destination has been observed. At the time of the event, five flights departed Sydney for Uluru each week.

Ayres Rock Resort re-opened its doors on August 1, 2020, unveiling a significant re-design. The extensive changes involved improvements to airport infrastructure and a $12 million refurbishment of the five-star Sails in the Desert. All guest rooms and suites, the lobby, the pool and restaurant, and toilet blocks and bathrooms in the Campground have been updated.

In the events space, Voyages has partnered with Opera Australia to host four performances in front of the rock in September 2021. This will be Opera Australia’s second performance in Uluru following its concert in November 2019 and the cancellation of a return visit this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Cameron-Smith said the concerts will give people something to look forward to after such a difficult year, and that his team is working on developing similar initiatives for the future.

To bolster confidence for event planners and guests, Voyages has also created a new mobile app and upgraded websites for Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia and Ayres Rock Resort. Most notably, the app will enhance guest safety measures including adherence to social distancing norms and guidelines set by the Northern Territory government. Features will allow guests to check in and out of the hotel remotely, make restaurant reservations, order in-room dining, plan tours and create activity itineraries.

The Ayers Rock Resort Planner app will have a second phase of development, which is expected to launch in April 2021. In addition to the current capabilities, it will offer access to special deals, the ability to book tours and activities and reserve tables across all restaurants. Guests will also be able to book spa appointments.

All sounds positive to me and I can’t wait to finally visit the region in the (hopefully) not too distant future.