It’s one of Australia’s most iconic wonders, visited by over 300,000 people per year but the future of Uluru will be ‘you can see but you can’t touch’ and we couldn’t agree with it more.
In a historic vote, the board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has voted unanimously to halt the practice of hiking up the 863m rock on cultural and spiritual grounds. Uluru is one of the most sacred sites in Aboriginal and Anangu cultures and, Sammy Wilson, himself a proud member of the Anangu community, lamented the pressure his community felt to keep the climb open to tourists. “Over the years Anangu have felt a sense of intimidation as if someone is holding a gun to our heads to keep it open. Please don’t hold us to ransom,” he said.
Not only is the site a deeply spiritual place for the local communities but there have also but a catalogue of injuries and in 37 cases since the 1950’s, death.
The decision has been met with practically universal agreement and considering only 16% of visitors undertook the activity in 2015, it’s not surprising.
“It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland … We welcome tourists here. We are not stopping tourism, just this activity”, said Wilson.
The official date for the cessation of climbs on Uluru is the 26th October 2019, 34 years to the day since the land was returned to the traditional owners by the Australian government.
For anyone who has reached the top of Uluru in the past (myself very much not included), I am sure the view is breathtaking but is it worth quite literally trampling over the traditions and beliefs of the local population? Hell to the no!
Sustainable tourism isn’t a fad, it’s rightly become an enduring fabric of what it means to be a traveller and we’re delighted to see it put into practice like this and being lauded from all corners. Great job by everyone!
This story originally appeared on The Guardian.