Australia adds golf to spice up Ayers Rock Resort

 

A “desert” golf course will emerge in the shadow of one of Australia’s iconic landmarks.

The 18-hole course will be added to Ayers Rock Resort, a large but run-down vacation destination in the southern part of the nation’s Northern Territory. The resort’s new owner, the government-sponsored Indigenous Land Corporation, is footing the bill for a major promotional campaign and a multimillion-dollar makeover, in an effort to lure big-city types to Yulara, a little village (estimated population: 1,600) that serves as the northern gateway of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The makeover is a must, because Yulara is located is in the middle of nowhere. It’s more than 200 miles southwest of Alice Springs, the nearest city of any appreciable size.

But the resort has some good things going for it, in particular one of Australia’s most famous natural attractions: Uluru (a.k.a. Ayers Rock), a sandstone formation that rises majestically nearly 1,150 feet above the surrounding flatlands and takes on a reddish glow when bathed by sunlight at dawn and sunset. The Rock is sacred to the Anangu, the area’s indigenous people.

Ayers Rock Resort also has five operating but fading hotels, some restaurants, and an airport, all of which will be improved. The ILC has already added a conference center, and soon to come are a spa, a wellness center, and attractions for children and families. The planned golf course will offer views of the Rock and the national park from every hole.

The ILC, which bought Ayers Rock earlier this year, also plans to give the Anangu a stake in the resort, so vacationers can get at least a semblance of an experience with the indigenous culture.

“Our overall objective is to reposition the resort as an indigenous centre of excellence, where guests learn about indigenous culture and have some interaction,” says Koos Klein of Sydney-based Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, which manages the ILC’s tourism activities.

As far as the resort’s marketing goes, that job has been handed over to Accor, the world’s largest hotel operator. Accor believes Ayers Rock can attract vacationers from China and India.

This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to WorldEdition@aol.com.

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