Rock climb tourism boom
Central Australia reporting bumper season for visitors
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.