Responsible world travelers know how important it is to respect the local culture. But a lack of respect from visitors is why climbing Uluru, in Australia, is about to become a thing of the past.
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board voted unanimously to ban the practice of climbing to the top of the rock. The indigenous Anangu community has been wanting to ban the activity for years.
“It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland,” said board chairman Sammy Wilson, according to the BBC.
Uluru’s stunning natural beauty attracts visitors from around the world, even the likes of Prince William and Kate Middleton, but for the Anangu this is no simple destination.
Uluru was returned to the Anangu back in 1985. Since then, the BBC reported, the community has felt intense pressure to allow visitors to climb despite the fact that the land is considered sacred.
They even put up a sign at the bottom of the rock: “The climb is not prohibited, but we prefer that, as a guest on Aṉangu land, you will choose to respect our law and culture by not climbing.”
Since the 1990s, tourists’ desires to climb have dwindled. According to Australia’s ABC, in 2015 only about 16 percent of visitors made the climb in 2015, down from about 74 percent in the 1990s.
In addition to cultural sensitivities, the climb is also quite treacherous and frequently closed due to weather conditions. According to the BBC, 35 people have died at Uluru since the 1950s.
The ban will go into effect on Oct. 26, 2019, the 24th anniversary of the Australian government officially giving the land back to the Aṉangu people.