Thousands of tourists visit sacred Indigenous sites throughout the world every year. Controversy about benefits and consequences of allowing tourists into these sites does not only only occur between Indigenous communities and governments, but among the Aboriginals themselves.
“The Big Red Rock” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a popular tourist destination, and although there have been signs around the formation asking people to respect the spiritual significance of the structure by abstain from climbing it, thousands of visitors ignore the signs and climb it anyway. Sammy Wilson, an Uluru Park board chairman and native Aboriginal notes that because of Uluru’s popularity the Anangu Peoples felt pressured to continue to allow tourists to climb the rock, which is a taboo in their culture. In the past they also hoped that tourism would help provide jobs for youth at nearby resorts.
The Australian government has taken the unprecedented step to ban tourists from climbing Uluru Rock, a sacred Anagu Aboriginals site, has been met with both applause and criticism.
Some tourist organizations, along with Northern Territory Chief Adam Giles argues that by closing Uluru to climbers the Indigenous communities around it loose income from potential tourists. While others argue that the ban may spike visitations if Indigenous communities develop educational experiences for tourists where they can learn about the ban and the spiritual significance of Uluru.
Increase interest in Eco-tourism is leading opportunities for Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous communities struggle with finding a balance between protecting spiritual territories and respecting traditions with teaching others and making a living. In 2014 an Aboriginal Tourism Operator was rebuked by his own Nation for showing members of the press a traditional burial site and disturbing the burial box.
Hallinan, Bridget. “Visitors Will Soon Be Banned from Climbing Australia’s Uluru Rock.” Condé Nast Traveler, CondÉ Nast Traveler, 1 Nov. 2017, http://www.cntraveler.com/story/visitors-will-soon-be-banned-from-climbing-australias-uluru-rock?mbid=social_facebook_video.
Hamilton, Wawmeesh G. “Aboriginal tourism operator rebuked for opening burial boxes for travellers.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 22 Sept. 2014, http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/aboriginal-tourism-operator-rebuked-for-opening-burial-boxes-for-travellers-1.2774255.
Marks, Kathy. “Is it ‘ludicrous’ to ban climbers from Uluru?” BBC News, BBC, 11 May 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-36263849.