The chairman of a business lobby group and general manager for Alice Springs airport has called for the Uluru climb to reopen.
Dave Batic, who is the chairman of Alice Springs Major Business Group, told ABC News that there has been talk of a “grand” reopening of the climb to re-build tourism in the Northern Territory when borders reopen.
Batic said the idea is to reopen the climb for two-to-three years in partnership with the traditional owners.
“The concept there is that the traditional owners would provide tours for paying climbers and have a safety harness system in place just like the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” he said.
“I guess it would be a grand opening or reopening of the Northern Territory.
“There’s three iconic destinations in Australia that we talk about: The reef, the rock and the Sydney Opera House. The rock is actually going to be our saviour from a tourism perspective.”
Batic, acknowledged that it would be up to the traditional owners to manage the reopening but said 10,000 less people came through the airport each month following the closure of the climb.
The climb closed on 26 October 2019 after decades of campaigning from the traditional owners of the land, the Anangu people.
Tourists rushed to climb the iconic rock in the months leading up to the closure against the wishes of traditional owners, resulting in images of hoards of people scaling Uluru which circulated worldwide.
Member for Namatjira Chansey Paech told NT News he had been alarmed to hear people were calling for the reopening of the climb.
“Uluru will always be an attraction for people to come to Central Australia,” he said.
“They will always want to visit and look at the majesty of Uluru.
“We have to work together with Yulara, the Mutitjulu community, Parks Australia and tourism operators to market Uluru to get the maximum result. A comment on radio about possibly reopening the climb was alarming to me. I could not believe it was being verbalised.
“A significant amount of work has been done by traditional owners and Parks to get to where we are now.
“I will stand by my constituents and oppose and move to reopen the climb.”
Travel Weekly reached out to Parks Australia and has not yet received a response, however, a spokesperson told ABC News that the closure “represents the long-held wishes of the park’s traditional owners, Anangu”.
“At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the Board has been working with tourism businesses for several years to develop new attractions,” the spokesperson said.
“When the park is open it offers cultural workshops and demonstrations at the Cultural Centre every day, and the free ranger-guided Mala Walk each morning,” the spokesperson said.
“Visitors can discover ancient rock art, learn about the park’s amazing plants and animals and their significance to Anangu, and find locally made, authentic Indigenous art and crafts at the art centre.”
Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks are closed until 19 June 2020, in line with measures enacted under the Biosecurity Act.
Featured image credit: iStock/Julien Viry