Tourists are flocking to Uluru, Australia so they can get a chance to climb the rock before an official ban is placed on climbing in October. Despite the wishes of the traditional owners, people are reaching the site in huge numbers with the intention of scaling the sandstone monolith, reports The Guardian.
Tourists are illegally trespassing at Uluru
In November 2017, the management board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park voted unanimously to ban tourists from climbing the structure. Several photos have been posted on Instagram and Twitter showing crowds of tourists at the world-heritage listed site. Tourists were seen trespassing, illegally camping and dumping rubbish in the lead-up to the closure. The climb will officially close on October 26.
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Ahead of a climbing ban that will be instituted on Oct. 26, tourists are flocking to climb Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock, the iconic sandstone monolith in the heart of Australia’s Northern Territory’s “Red Centre.” A spokesperson from Tourism Central Australia told the New York Times that more than 370,000 people visited the rock in 2018, which is a 20 percent increase from 2017, adding that that the sudden influx of tourists is putting strain on the site, leading to reports of increased illegal camping, trespassing and trash dumping. Photos shared on social media showed crowds of tourists climbing the 1,141 foot (348 meter) rock. The rock is sacred to indigenous Anangu Australians and sits inside a national park that is a Unesco World Heritage site. Signs at the base of the site have read “This is our home” and “Please do not climb” for years. Following their plea, the board members of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park announced a ban in November 2017, which is also intended to help prevent environmental mental damage to the rock. (?: Getty, Katrina Beavan at ABC Alice Springs, ?: @kassy) – #uluru #ayersrock #rock #monolith #tourist #tourists #tourism #crowd #crowds #climb #climber #climbers #climbing #hike #hiker #hikers #travel #environment #indigenious #indigenouspeople #anangu #redcentre #northernterritory #nationalpark #unescoworldheritage #unesco #australia #australian #aussie #straya
Uluru is considered a scared men’s site for generations by the Anangu people. They are the traditional owners of the site. They have requested visitors to not climb the rock because they feel a certain responsibility towards the high number of deaths and injuries incurred from climbing. There have been a total of 37 deaths since the 1950s at the site. The most recent death was that of a 76-year-old Japanese tourist in July last year.
Visitors over the years have decreased
It was announced back in 2010, that the rock would close for climbing once the proportion of visitors at the rock fell below 20%. Back then it was 38%, which was much lower compared to 74% in the 1990s. But in 2015, the number had decreased to 16.2%.
A spokesperson for Parks Australia said that 87% of visitors now chose not to climb Uluru. However, in the last financial year, there were 395,338 visitors to the park; up 20% on the previous financial year. He also explained that the impending closure of the site was not the only reason for the spike in numbers.
The introduction of direct flights from Darwin and Adelaide to Ayers Rock airport since April had increased the number of visitors. Further, numbers also went up during the school holidays.
“Just as we want people to look after the world heritage values of Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park, we also encourage people to respect the broader region and not to camp illegally or dump rubbish,” the spokesperson said.