The Uluru dilemma

By | Category: Travel destinations

Yesterday was the final day on which visitors could climb Uluru, the giant red, rock that erupts from the flattish landscape in the middle of Australia.

Uluru
Uluru (formerly Ayres Rock) is now off limits for climbers

Known the world over for its distinctive shape, visitors have been ascending the landmark for decades. That has now been stopped.

Indigenous Australians claimed that Uluru was sacred and that it should not be violated by people clambering all over it.

The authorities agreed and today will begin the task of removing the steel fencing posts and the pathways that have assisted climbers and stopped them straying from the walking route.

Nobody knows how many thousands of people have made this trek over the decades (but government figures suggest 400,000 people have visited it in the last year) and nobody can precisely calculate the amount of tourism revenue that Uluru has brought to the region.

But the tourist authorities must be wondering whether as many people will visit the area the area without the attraction of climbing Uluru. They say they are unworried but – in the adapted words of Mandy Rice-Davies, – ” they would say that wouldn’t they.”

Will birdwatching, looking at rock art and watching the sun come up over the monolith be enough to keep 400,000 people coming each year?

Coaches will still come and people will walk around the perimeter of the rock but will that make up for the drop in revenue?

I am not saying that Uluru should have been left open for climbers; far from it. But I do wonder what can replace it as a tourist attraction in an area where baroness is the norm for miles around.

You only get a sense of the distance in Australia when you drive. I have driven for hundreds of kilometres in the outback and seen nothing but bush, dead animals by the side of the road and only a few scattered houses. People who thought it would be a pleasant tourist venture to drive through the bush soon become bored and lose their initial enthusiasm having seen nothing but mile after mile of sameness.

To keep those tourist dollars coming, it might be wort thinking of artificial tourist attractions; ones that don’t despoil the land or sacred sites. In that way tourists’ cash which makes a significant contribution to the local economy can continue to benefit the community.

Maybe something indigenous in theme that chronicles the life from arrival to the present that considers the troubles faced by indigenous people over the centuries could be theme.

Yesterday was the final day on which visitors could climb Uluru, the giant red, rock that erupts from the flattish landscape in the middle of Australia.

Known the world over for its distinctive shape, visitors have been ascending the landmark for decades. That has now been stopped.

Indigenous Australians claimed that Uluru was sacred and that it should not be violated by people clambering all over it.

The authorities agreed and today will begin the task of removing the steel fencing posts and the pathways that have assisted climbers and stopped them straying from the walking route. Nobody knows how many thousands of people have made this trek over the decades (but government figures suggest 400,000 people have visited it in the last year) and nobody can precisely calculate the amount of tourism revenue that Uluru has brought to the region.

But the tourist authorities must be wondering whether as many people will visit the area the area without the attraction of climbing Uluru. They say they are unworried but they would – in the adapted words of Mandy Rice-Davies, 2They wold say that wouldn’t they.”

Will birdwatching, looking at rock art and watching the sun come up over the monolith be enough to keep 400,000 people coming each year?

Coaches will still come and people will walk around the perimeter of the rock but will that make up for the drop in revenue?

I am not saying that Uluru should have been left open for climbers; far from it. But I do wonder what can replace it as a tourist attraction in an area where baroness is the norm for miles around.

You only get a sense of the distance in Australia when you drive. I have driven for hundreds of kilometres in the outback and seen nothing but bush, dead animals by the side of the road and only a few scattered houses. People who thought it would be a pleasant tourist venture to drive through the bush soon become bored and lose their initial enthusiasm having seen nothing but mile after mile of sameness.

To keep those tourist dollars coming, it might be wort thinking of artificial tourist attractions; ones that don’t despoil the land or sacred sites. In that way tourists’ cash which makes a significant contribution to the local economy can continue to benefit the community.

Maybe something indigenous in theme that chronicles the life from arrival to the present that considers the troubles faced by indigenous people over the centuries could be theme.

Whatever it will be, it might not come soon enough to replace those tourist dollars.

Whatever it will be, it might not come soon enough to replace those tourist dollars.

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