Why have visitor numbers to Uluru been plunging?

Published: July 14, 2015

Visitor numbers to Uluru have plunged in the past decade … and both the Federal Government and the traditional owners are anxious to do something about it.

While grey nomads only make up a relatively small percentage of overall visitor numbers to Australia’s most iconic destination, the reasons why so many no longer put the Rock on their Big Lap itinerary is one issue that will need to be analysed.

From 2004 to 2014, visitor numbers to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park fell 20%, and businesses are now being encouraged to enter expressions of interest to operate near Uluru. The Government is hoping the call will attract overseas investors.

Parks Australia said there was no limit to the projects it would accept, but that each application would be assessed on its environmental sustainability and cultural appropriateness.

“We don’t want to rule anything in or out … it could be people who want to do day trips, it could be people who are interested in accommodation, it could be people who want to have food or beverage,” National Parks Director, Sally Barnes, told the ABC. “But obviously, we’re here in a world heritage area so we’ve got to make sure things come through the door that are appropriate in terms of sustainability and culturally in sync with the wishes of the traditional owners.”

Speaking through an Aboriginal language translator, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management chairperson Sammy Wilson told the ABC that tourists leave after viewing the sunrise over the rock.

“We have this beautiful facility here, but it’s not really utilised,” Mr Wilson said. “Visitors come and view the sunrise from here but then it becomes an empty place and if there was something here perhaps where visitors could stay and engage and enjoy more about being here [it would be good].”

Applications for the expressions of interest close on September 30, 2015.

  • Is Uluru still on your Big Lap itinerary? If not, why not? What more (if anything) would yu like to see at Uluru? Comment below.
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7 years ago

we are on a pension, and an overseas visitor as well. to be told after driving three plus hours at the booth that is would cost $25 per person and no discount for pensioners is a real rip off, and all we wanted was a photo of us at this icon, and we were only going to be there for the day.
Yes if Grey Nomads are not going there i can understand why.If those who run this are so greedy, then yes the numbers are still going to fall.

Gordon Prescott
7 years ago

I saw this coming.
The sunrise area is in the wrong place, everyone knows that. It should be where it always was.
The whole park is so “managed” that it has become sterile.
The issue of climbing the rock is a joke, as I have seen the so called “custodians” happily running up and down it ( on the side away from the climb ) showing no supposed respect at all.
Cycling, why is there not a dedicated cycling path from Yulara to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Think of the people who would use that! Think of the employment provided in building it and servicing it!
Consider the pricing of accommodation available. Is it competitive? Is the service of an appropriate standard?
And lastly, do you really think that tourists enjoy walking around the Yulara shopping centre and seeing the indigenous people lying around, dirty, smelly, untidy when this is supposedly a world attraction? Think about all this people. This is the reality!

Chris Marts
7 years ago

It is just too expensive, and I have been there before. Once you have visited the place there is no reason to go back, and a powerful incentive NOT to go back (cost)

7 years ago
Reply to  Chris Marts

agree gread at its best

beryl bull
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris Marts

yes I agree with Chris…expensive to drive there & then huge costs to enter ,wonderful place but cannot afford to go back.

7 years ago

hi all. the main reason is because its a rip off
we camped close to the rock years ago
claimed the rock had a great time in the area for a awhile
didn’t cost the earth
now u are treated like a criminal if u go to get to top os rock
the so called first people have control and changed things for the worse
and it seems a money is the cause

Faye Paull
7 years ago

Money is the issue for grey nomads. We only have so much to spend and want value for money. The Territory is pricing itself out of the market and so many nomads we have talked with say that once visited they would not go back again.

Daryl n June
7 years ago

Be there tomorrow and would happily pay if we could climb it like you could years ago.

Bruce Carrick
7 years ago
Reply to  Daryl n June

The climb at Uluru is not closed and it is free. It is only closed when the temp is over 35, if its raining, or too windy at the summit.

carole o'meara
7 years ago

Took the kids there in 1981. Climbed the rock, did the caves tour and generally looked around the area. Thoroughly enjoyed it all without excessive costs. When these things are taken away (climbing the rock is a big inducement for a lot of people) and prices of accomodation and entry are excessive, of course numbers will drop and will continue to do so. While I appreciate the need to protect areas I believe climbing the rock does not come into this. Respect for indigenous areas can be maintained without closing everything for no reason.

Lyn Carter
7 years ago

We travel with a dog as do 40% of other travellers, we are not welcome with our dogs in any National Park, we will not visit your region

Wayne Baxter
7 years ago

We were there in 1987 climbed the rock with our son, cost nothing, had a great time, everyone was happy and friendly, went there again last year, could not climb the rock, excessive cost to get in, not worth the effort, typical of goverment department trying to make money from a natural land mark /icon that has been around for ever!!!!

Mike & Trish
7 years ago

We have visited it years ago and camped alongside the base of the rock, in awe and in respect of it.We are Grey nomads with a van now and still like to go there but today you pay (too much) and see little of what you could. we can also comment on the accommodation having taken o/s visitors there on a side trip off the Ghan to Darwin. Over-rated and tiredis how i would describe it…definitely never again! We also travel in our van with a small dog so I guess we will never go there again.

Terry Fisher
7 years ago

I was there July 2015 school holidays bus load after bus load of high school children and this facility cannot cope not enough toilets not enough showers dirty toilets dirty showers 3 day stay and not one drop of hot water $25 to look at a rock all for $38 a night powered site. If you want people to come clean up your act.I won’t be back and i will not recommend it to anybody else.

robert & Pam King
7 years ago

There comes a time in our lives when we just become so over done with being screwed for money. It’s about time some of these people realise that we are not the money pits they want us to be. We have been avoiding these types of places for years, and will continue to do so until they repeal all of these excessive charges and start treating people like visitors and their own personnel money pits.

Tony n Jodie
7 years ago

We stayed in the caravan park in 2011 with our two dogs. Yes it cost more than other parks but we did not think it was excessive. Hooked up to power, we were able to leave our dogs in air conditioning with neighbours to keep an eye on them while we went touring. Having driven that far, it made sense to stay 2 nights. The price to get closer to the rock is extortion. It’s too far to go back for what’s there. Once is enough.


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