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(Australian Associated Press)
Visitors to Uluru will be banned from climbing the sacred rock following a decision by its traditional owners.
The ban will come into effect from 2019 with the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board on Wednesday deciding “it’s time” to impose the restriction because of Uluru’s sacred significance.
“It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland,” traditional landowner and chairman of the park board Sammy Wilson said on Wednesday.
The ban will be imposed under the terms of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Management Plan.
The plan included provisions to stop visitors scaling the rock if the proportion who chose to make the trek fell below 20 per cent.
Figures from Parks Australia indicated only 16 per cent of visitors made the climb between 2011 and 2015, down from about 74 per cent in the 1990s.
However, the park board still believed tourists would come to Uluru.
“We welcome tourists here. We are not stopping tourism, just this activity,” Mr Wilson said.
Federal Indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion said he was comfortable with any decision by the traditional landowners and not worried about losing tourism in the area.
“They are very thoughtful about these matters and know a great deal about the economics around the rock,” he told Sky News.
“They are very focused on ensuring this cultural decision is a good decision for them culturally and the impact on employment.”
Uluru has around 300,000 visitors each year with Australian tourists the most likely to climb the rock followed by the Japanese, according to the park’s figures.
The traditional landowners, the Anangu, have always refused to climb Uluru and consider it sacred.
The site is often closed to climbers after the death of important indigenous figures as a mark of respect.
The last day of climbing will be October 26, 2019.
THE ULURU-KATA TJUTA NATIONAL PARK BOARD HAS BANNED THE CLIMBING OF ULURU:
* Uluru is considered sacred by the Anangu indigenous people and is listed as a world heritage site.
* The traditional landowners do not climb the rock and urge tourists not to.
* In 2010 the national park board, which has control over Uluru, committed to giving tourism operators 18 months notice before implementing a ban.
* The national park encompassing Uluru has around 300,000 visitors each year
* In the 1990s, 74 per cent of visitors would climb Uluru.
* That number was down to just over 16 per cent in 2015.
* The first records of people climbing Uluru date back to 1936, with the beginning of adventure tourism in the region.
* 36 people have died climbing the rock since records were first kept in the 1950s, the majority falling or succumbing to heat stress and dehydration.
* The last death was in 2010.