Indigenous Australians on Monday marked the first anniversary of the climbing ban imposed on Uluru or the Ayers Rock, the sacred Aboriginal site in Northern Territory (NT).
Uluru is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site and was named earlier this month as the world’s third-best places to see by international travel guide Lonely Planet, reports Xinhua news agency.
It is also considered to be a place of spiritual significance by its indigenous custodians, the Anangu people, who have pleaded with tourists not to climb it for many years.
Climbing Uluru was officially banned from October 26, 2019.
“To the people of this area, that rock is sacred and it’s important that people never climb the rock,” Theresa Wilson, a local indigenous woman, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday.
Opponents of closing the climb argued at the time that it would cause visitor numbers to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to drop.
However, tourism operators said that the decision has brought a new wave of visitors interested in indigenous culture and history to the area.
“Visitors surveyed since the closure of the climb reported that learning about Aboriginal culture was a transformative and memorable experience, with 84 percent of visitors surveyed reporting that visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park enhanced their understanding of Anangu culture,” a spokesperson for Parks Australia told News Corp Australia.
Lynda Wright, a park ranger, said that the closure has had wide-ranging benefits for the area with rangers able to dedicate more time to park management.
“Now we’re spending a lot more time doing maintenance in the park – so all of our tracks, fences, signs – and looking after the flora and fauna in a much better way,” she told the ABC.