Rock climb tourism boom

Cen­tral Aus­tralia re­port­ing bumper sea­son for vis­i­tors

NT News - - NEWS - AN­DREA JOHN­STON

THE im­pend­ing clo­sure of the climb at Uluru is prompt­ing an un­ex­pected boost to tourist num­bers in an al­ready boom­ing Red Cen­tre in­dus­try.

Lisa Evans from Uluru Camel Tours said their sun­rise and sun­set tours were booked out daily, and the school hol­i­days had been “huge”.

“The win­ter was phe­nom­e­nal this year, ab­so­lutely record num­bers,” she said.

“The chatter we’re hear­ing from vis­i­tors, pre­dom­i­nantly do­mes­tic, is they are com­ing out here es­pe­cially to climb the rock, and they’re stay­ing a num­ber of days un­til they can climb the rock.

“In the mean­time they’re get­ting out and see­ing ev­ery­thing else in the re­gion, which is ex­cit­ing for all the op­er­a­tors,” Ms Evans said.

The lat­est fig­ures from Tourism Re­search Aus­tralia showed a drop in vis­i­tors and spend in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, but Stephen Sch­wer, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Tourism Cen­tral Aus­tralia, said such fig­ures should be taken with a pinch of salt.

“You do get quite size­able vari­a­tions in in­di­vid­ual re­port­ing pe­ri­ods, which come be­cause a fairly small sam­ple size is then ex­trap­o­lated,” he said.

“You use it as a trend over time, and what we’re see­ing is we’re up, and if you chat with a lot of op­er­a­tors in the re­gion, you’ll see a lot of smiles on their faces.

“We’re not just talk­ing about Uluru be­ing up, we’re talk­ing about the whole re­gion. Op­er­a­tors in Ten­nant Creek and the Barkly, op­er­a­tors in Alice Springs and sur­rounds, they’re all re­port­ing very good fig­ures,” Mr Sch­wer said.

As for the clo­sure of the climb at Uluru, Mr Sch­wer ac­knowl­edged the “small el­e­ment” of trav­ellers with the in­ten­tion of climb­ing.

“To those trav­ellers I would say please read the signs, lis­ten to all the in­for­ma­tion we put out there, re­spect the wishes of tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans, please also look at it from a safety point of view, and an en­vi­ron­men­tal point of view,” he said.

“We would pre­fer peo­ple chose not to climb the rock.”

Tourists at Uluru got spec­tac­u­lar rare views at the start of this week, with two stormy nights in a row, and rain­bows to fol­low. Re­ports of dam­age across Yu­lara turned out to be false, with SkyShip Uluru the only in­fra­struc­ture af­fected.

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