Travellers who are keen to take their visit to Australia to new heights may only have a short window in which to do so, after news emerged that tourists may be banned from scaling Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. (Featured image is by Prerak77.)
A fall in visitor numbers at the iconic landmark in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which has been jointly run by the Aboriginal Anangu and the Australian Government since 1985, could lead to Ayers Rock being permanently closed to visitors.
Parks Australia has previously agreed to close the attraction if numbers fall below 20 per cent, and a small survey in June indicated that just 20 per cent of visitors to Uluru attempted a climb. This is a significant decrease on the figure of 38 per cent recorded in 2010 and 74 per cent recorded in 1990.
Margot Marshall, director of public affairs for Parks Australia, told Telegraph Travel: “The climb will not be closed until we have more robust numbers and have also put in place a range of new visitor experiences.
“We will consult the tourism industry well in advance of any closure and then give the industry at least 18 months notice to meet their business needs.”
A description of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park on the Parks Australia website, welcomes visitors to “Anangu land”. It reads:
“Come share our story. See Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with your own eyes. Watch as the sun sets over our Red Centre landscape, hear the echo of the beginning of time, Tjukurpa (law) whispering the story of creation to you.”
Although visitors aren’t currently prohibited from climbing the rock, they are asked not to do so out of respect for the Anangu culture, which considers Uluru to be sacred.
There are also environmental and safety considerations, alongside ethical concerns, connected with climbing Uluru.
A total of 36 people have died attempting to reach the summit, where the lack of facilities has also been questioned, as well as concerns being voiced over erosion.
Treks, such as guided walks around the rock’s base, are also promoted by park management and the park has been occasionally closed for cultural reasons, such as the death of an elder associated with caring for the site.