Allan Takes Aim Blog

Canberra the ‘Naughty Capital’

Posted on: 4 July 2012


First published ‘The Chronicle’ Canberra, Tuesday 3 July, 2012. Also published online 4 July

Many times during my years in Canberra’s tourism industry I racked my brains about how Canberra could become a destination that adult tourists would visit time and time again. Though the War Memorial and other national institutions might stir the heart of patriots, unfortunately, not all tourists are patriots.

That said, what I thought Canberra needed was something that promised more excitement. In my experience, because tourists expect to remember holidays as exciting I find it hard to imagine many of them on returning home rushing to tell friends and neighbours about their exciting holiday visiting Australia’s national institutions and then urging them to visit the nearest travel agent and make Canberra their next holiday destination. That, I think, would be a big stretch of the imagination.

I raise the subject of tourism because the new multi- million dollar Tourism Australia advertising campaign, which makes no mention of Canberra, has raised the ire of some in the Capital’s tourism industry. Are they wrong? Does the ad have an underlying message they cannot see?

Perhaps the ad does have an underlying message based on the phrase, coined many years ago by the ACT tourism industry, that Canberra is Australia’s best kept secret. On the other hand perhaps the creators of the advertising campaign didn’t know Canberra was the National Capital or that they left Canberra out intentionally so as to prompt the curiosity of potential tourist on the basis that if people thinking of taking a holiday in France or England would probably look at their capitals Paris or London, before making a decision.

If that was the strategy, time will tell if they were right. In particular they will be delighted if they hear reports that not only has Canberra’s accommodation industry gone into overdrive to meet the demand for beds but that Canberra’s institutions, attractions, retail outlets, cafes and restaurants are also being swamped by a demand for information.

But my long experience in tourism also taught me something else. Tourism is a fickle mistress who often dashes the expectations of her suitors. That being the case and in the event the strategy doesn’t work, let me suggest an alternative strategy, the idea of Canberra having a Naughty Quarter that houses the kind of risqué entertainments synonymous with other world capitals. Why, I asked myself doesn’t Canberra have an area like London’s Soho or Montrnartre in Paris, home of the Moulin Rouge and its famous Can-Can girls, not to mention the Folies Bergere and its Bluebell Girls, many of whom are Australians?

This being Canberra, the decision about where to locate the Naughty Quarter would not only be the subject of many planning consultations but also as to whether or not Canberra needed such a quarter. And although planning consultations in Canberra tend to take a long time to be concluded I am optimistic that with an election looming, consultations would be speedy and a decision made quickly.

However, because time waits for no man I have made tentative plans for a grand opening cabaret designed by local company Scallywag Productions, featuring some of Australia’s greatest entertainers and regular performers in Canberra’s Theatre of the Absurd. And so, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado I present: “Canberra Cabaret.”

As befitting the city’s status, no expense would be spared in making this a star studded production. Scallywag Productions has invited famous political juggler Julia Gillard to top the bill and act as Mistress of Ceremonies. And no doubt to, as do other famous Emm Cees, when she introduces each act she will do so with few quips.

To help her a Scallywag’s script writer has suggested she use the following introductions to various acts: Wayne Swan and his economic dance troupe; Bill Shorten and, his knife throwing act The Scalpels; Tony Abbot, as the star of ‘Yes’, a short political sketch; and Christopher Pyne, the famous political escapologist. The script writer also suggested she introduce Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie as the Four Stooges; Christine Milne the star of Green for Danger, and, depending on circumstances, Craig Thomson as the Playboy Pollie. I feel sure with such top line entertainment that tourists will visit Canberra again and again and again!
dca@netspeed.com.au
The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday and online on Wednesday at: http://www.chronicleonline.com.au

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