One of Australia’s top tourism attractions is to be closed to visitors because its Aboriginal owners reckon it is sacred ground.
Parks Australia announced Wednesday that Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock, would likely be off-limits by October 2011.
There are around 350,000 visitors a year to Uluru, 440km south of Alice Springs, around a third of whom vote with their feet and climb the 347-meter monolith.
Traditional owners have long urged visitors to make do with looking at the giant sandstone rock rather than climbing it during their trips.
The imposing rock, Australia’s most photographed physical feature, sits in a dead-flat plain in the center of the continent.
“For visitor safety, cultural and environmental reasons, the director and the board will work towards closure of the climb,” a Parks Australia management plan states.
Tour operators in far north Australia have complained that transferring ownership of land to indigenous people often means tourists are not allowed to visit or are charged exorbitant entry fees.
Alice Springs is reliant on the tourist trade and any reduction in arrivals would affect its economy. Many budget travelers who can’t afford to fly to Uluru travel by bus from Alice Springs. (DPA)