Is there a Disneyland in Australia

For decades there have been these large signs at the foot of Uluru Mountain: "Please don't climb". A kind request, a reminder to the thousands upon thousands of tourists who travel to the center of the country every year to see the red-brown shining postcard mountain, this symbol of Australia. The world-famous sandstone monolith in the middle of the desert, which the indigenous people consider sacred. But a request, a reminder, a sign - none of that is a prohibition.

On Wednesday, however, the administration of Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park decided that climbing tours on the 348-meter-high rock would be banned. The ban is due to come into force in October 2019. "Uluru is not Disneyland," said Sammy Wilson, who is the chief of the park authority and a member of the Anangu Aboriginal people. He urged visitors to abide by the prohibition: "When I travel to another country with a holy place, to an area with restricted access, I do not enter or climb it, I respect it." After much discussion it was decided that it was time for such a ban.

Surveys show that only 16.2 percent of visitors climb the mountain

The Anangu Aboriginal tribe has lived in the shadow of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, for at least 30,000 years. The mountain is sacred to the indigenous people. Only specially initiated men of the tribe are allowed to climb, and only on special occasions. Many rock formations are taboo. Caves, for example, where women went to give birth, boys to circumcision.

The locations may not be photographed. Since the 1980s, the indigenous people have asked tourists not to climb the mountain out of respect for their traditions, but also for reasons of safety. For a long time, visitors had shown little understanding for the wish, until the 1990s the majority of tourists climbed Uluru. Since then, however, many have become aware of the wishes of the indigenous people - despite the iron chain along the well-trodden path, which never looked as if one shouldn't climb up there. "Europeans usually respect that we don't want to climb," said an indigenous park ranger. Surveys show that today only 16.2 percent of visitors climb the mountain. In 1990 it was 74 percent. Most of the tourists - 300,000 come every year - wander around Uluru today. In addition, overseers had to close the ascent more and more frequently in recent years due to high temperatures, at least 36 people died on the way up, many of them after a heart attack.

The decisive factor for the decision must have been that the tourism industry, which is strongly represented on the supervisory board, finally showed its agreement. Tour operators and tourism authorities had been claiming for years that Central Australia would lose its appeal if the ascent was no longer possible.

Like many regions of Australia, large parts of the isolated interior were taken over by the white newcomers after the continent was settled in 1788, and many indigenous people were either expelled, relocated or murdered. In 1985 the area in which Uluru and the nearby mountains of Kata Tjuta stand officially returned to the Anangu. They immediately leased the newly created park to the government for joint management. Since then there has been criticism that the indigenous people have too little to say on the board of directors.