Visitors will be banned from climbing on Australia’s iconic Uluru landmark from October 2019, local authorities have confirmed.
The board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park voted unanimously to end the climb because of indigenous sensitivities.
The giant red monolith in the Northern Territory is a sacred site for Aboriginal Australians.
Local people have long asked visitors not to climb the outcrop, which was known for many years as Ayers Rock.
Signs at the start of the climb ask people to abstain from going up in respect to the traditional law of the Anangu Aboriginal people, the custodians of the land.
“It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland,” board chairman and Anangu man Sammy Wilson was reported by the BBC as saying.
“If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site, an area of restricted access, I don’t enter or climb it, I respect it. ”
He said the Anangu people had felt intimidation over the years to keep the climb open because it was a top tourist attraction.
However, the group had consistently wanted to close the site, a sacred men’s area, because of its cultural significance.
“Closing the climb is not something to feel upset about but a cause for celebration. Let’s come together; let’s close it together,” he said.
The board was made up of eight traditional owners as well as four government officials.
Only 16% of visitors made the climb between 2011 to 2015, according to the board’s data.
The Unesco World Heritage-listed monolith was handed back to its traditional owners in 1985.
The ban will commence on October, 26, 2019 – the 34th anniversary of the handover.
Tourism Central Australia said it supported the decision, pointing out that the public could still access much of the site respectfully.
More than 250,000 people visit Uluru each year, according to the national park’s website.
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