Tourists rush at Australias Uluru rock before climbing ban
0 month ago, 12-Jul-2019
A file photo shows a sign declaring the popular climb to the summit of Uluru closed in the World Hertage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia. AFP photo
SYDNEY: A looming ban on climbing Australias Uluru rock, intended to protect the sacred site from damage, has instead triggered a damaging influx of visitors, tourism operators said yesterday.
Clambering up the giant red monolith, also known as Ayers Rock, will be prohibited from October in line with the wishes of the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land, the Anangu.
But a rush to beat the ban has led to a sharp increase in tourists and is causing its own problems for the World Heritage Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Families arriving in campers vans and RVs are a particular problem, chief executive of Tourism Central Australia Stephen Schwer told AFP.
We have got so much of one particular market coming, we dont have enough infrastructure to handle the number of drive travellers.
While most visitors are doing the right thing, camping venues in the area are at capacity with advance bookings, leaving many less organised arrivals to set up illegally.
In the 12 months to June 2019, more than 395,000 people visited the Uluru-Kata National Park, according to Parks Australia, about 20 per cent more than the previous year.
Yet just 13 per cent of those who visited also climbed the rock, the government agency said.
Tourism operators say that Australian and Japanese tourists most commonly seek to climb Uluru. AFP