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Never never go? Not likely say voucher-happy Territorians

Tourism NT upgrades to cloud based application platform, processes 10,000 applications in less than four minutes

Transitioning its travel voucher registration system to the cloud allowed Tourism NT to accept applications for 10,000 $200 vouchers in just 3 minutes and 44 seconds without incident.

The Northern Territory Government (NTG) pioneered the idea of issuing travel vouchers for residents in mid-2020 as a way to encourage locals to travel around their region, and help pick up at least some of the slack associated with people from interstate and overseas being unable to visit because of pandemic-related border closures.

The Microsoft Azure based platform also ensured the security of the address verification requirements of the scheme that allow NT residents to claim an additional $200 voucher for certain trips taken more than 400Km from their home.

The travel vouchers are released on a first-come first-served basis, but in a staggered fashion so as not to overwhelm the Regional Tourism Organisations that redeem the vouchers. The vouchers are redeemable on a $1 for $1 basis up to a maximise of $200 and can be used on different tourism experiences in the Top End, Red Centre, Katherine and Barkley regions.

Their second round of voucher release, while successful in encouraging NT travel, faced processing hiccups with the previously on-premise registration system overwhelmed by demand.

However the transition to Microsoft Azure meant that in February, the NT’s third round voucher offer which attracted 10,000 applications in the first few minutes, with a total 33,000 applications received by dawn, went off without a hitch.

The vouchers successfully encouraged local travel over the Christmas/New Year period. (Source: chippieb/via IG in Kakadu National Park)

Tony Quarmby, Executive General Manager, Tourism NT said that the travel voucher scheme had been very successful with some tourism operators reporting that they had exceeded pre-covid booking numbers following the introduction of the voucher scheme.

Around 24,000 vouchers were redeemed during the first voucher offer launched in mid-2020; almost 10 per cent of the NT’s total population taking up the offer.

A second round of vouchers was similarly successful encouraging local travel over the Christmas/New Year period which is a typically quiet period for local tourism according to Quarmby.

By September 2020 the NT’s voucher scheme had already attracted the attention of Australia’s other States and Territories also keen to encourage more travel at a time when interstate and overseas tourism was significantly restricted.

Adam Boucher, Director of Marketing Solutions and digital lead for Tourism NT’s voucher registration process said the Azure based registration system was stress tested without incident and breezed through the first 10,000 applications in less than four minutes.

“To make sure that the solution was infinitely scalable we worked with the Microsoft Fast Track team,” said Boucher. “We tested the load, tested the solution for something like 3.5 million people and it didn’t even sweat.

It was super scalable and on launch night we had no issues at all, it could have handled a lot more traffic.

Once their application is accepted, people are emailed a voucher code which they can store in a digital wallet or use to make an online booking.

Azure and Microsoft Power Apps were used to enhance the security surrounding applications for the extra $200 voucher available to Territorians travelling 400Km or further and spending $400 or more. These applicants were required to provide their driving licence details for address verification.

Lee Hickin, national technology officer, Microsoft Australia said; “Tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors through the pandemic, but thanks to the efforts of Tourism NT many Northern Territory operators have continued to book business and receive guests, essentially keeping them in business in an unprecedented time.

“It’s humbling to see how our technology can play a small part in helping Tourism NT adapt to the pandemic. As a trusted and scalable digital platform, Azure was able to deliver the technology foundations whilst also ensured the security and privacy of applicants’ information and the PowerApps lowcode/nocode rapid development platform enabled Tourism NT to move quickly to meet the needs of Industry.”

About Tourism NT
Tourism NT is a Northern Territory Government statutory authority responsible for promoting the Northern Territory as a must-do, unique holiday destination.
Corporate: tourismnt.com.au
Visit Northern Territory: northernterritory.com

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.

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