Calls For Uluru Climb To Reopen To Kickstart Tourism Post-Pandemic
Tourism operators are looking to the future to see how the industry will bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
International visitors aren't expected to be flooding through our gates anytime soon, so businesses are hoping th end of lockdown will see Aussies packing their bags and setting off to visit the best of what their country has to offer.
But one business lobby group has made a controversial call to reopen the Uluru climb in a bid to drive more tourists to see Australia's centre.
The climb was shut in October last year after years of campaigning to have the Aboriginal sacred site preserved and not trodden on every day.
It would certainly open up a cultural can of worms if climbing would resume, but the Alice Springs Major Business Group reckons it's what's needed to kickstart tourism in the Northern Territory.
The Group's chairman, Dave Batic, said restarting the climb would only be for two or three years to make up for the lost tourism during the pandemic.
But he said it would only happen if the traditional owners were on board.
"The concept there is that the traditional owners would provide tours for paying climbers and have a safety harness system in place just like the Sydney Harbour Bridge," he said.
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"There's three iconic destinations in Australia that we talk about: The reef, the rock and the Sydney Opera House. The rock is actually going to be our saviour from a tourism perspective."
"We know that when the rock climb closed, we had 10,000 less people through the airport per month," he said. "We know that the rock climb [closing] had a direct impact on tourism straight away."
It will be a tough sell to get the traditional owners to agree to the proposal considering many had been calling for the climb to shut for years.
When it was closed last year, tourism operators had to explain to travellers that they had to appreciate the rock and soak up its beauty from a distance rather than trample up to the top.
Early discussions don't look promising.
Former chairman of the Uluru Kata-Tjuta Board of Management, Sammy Wilson, told the ABC: "No. Enough is enough. The word is no. We don't want to open a can of worms or put more logs on the fire."
There's still plenty of stuff to do and see around the rock and visitors are encouraged to witness one of the most beautiful spots in Australia.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is closed until at least 18 June.
Featured Image Credit: PA