Australia has banned climbs of Uluru. Is this part of a bigger backlash against over tourism?

It’s been a controversial topic for many years, and now authorities have finally decided to ban tourists from climbing Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock), the sacred Anangu Aboriginal site in the red centre of Australia.

The ban comes into full effect on 26 October 2019, 34 years after the government returned the site to its traditional owners.

Although safety was one of the issues concerning both the Anangu and Australian authorities, the main reason for the closure was to preserve the integrity of the spiritually important site.

Sadly, although tourism can bring many positive benefits to a destination, it can also be extremely detrimental. Reports of people urinating on top of Uluru, for example, demonstrate ignorance, not only of the significance of the site, but also of basic hygiene – it’s feared important water sources have been contaminated as a result.

This isn’t a case in isolation. Iconic destinations and sites all over the world have fallen victim to over tourism. It’s a topic Justin Francis, CEO of tour company Responsible Travel, feels especially passionate about.

“In our view, greater attention must be put on the needs and wishes of local communities as tourism is planned and managed,” he said in response to the Uluru decision.

“A disregard of the impacts of tourism on local people’s lives has led to the modern phenomenon that has been dubbed ‘irresponsible tourism’ or ‘over tourism’.”

He notes a revolution is already underway…


Venetians have already made a stand against visitors disrespecting their city. In response to protests, local authorities introduced a fine of up to €450 as a “deterrent to people who think they can come to the city of Venice and do what they want, not respecting the city”.



????? #FontanaDiTrevi la più bella del mondo #Roma ????? Photo by: @mattiacarlon1

A post shared by ???? Italia ???? (@italian_places) on

Earlier this year, Rome banned eating and drinking at its famous fountains – with fines of up to €240 for breaking the rule. Paolo Bulgari, whose fashion house paid €1.5m to clean and renovate the Spanish Steps, also scorned tourists using the iconic stairway as a picnic seating area, for being “barbarians”.



This #picture describes very well the #explosion of #happiness you feel while doing #segway with us! @barcelonasegwaytour

A post shared by Barcelona Segway Tour (@barcelonasegwaytour) on

Spain has experienced a bumper few years for tourism – great for the economy but not so great for its citizens. Barcelona, one of the most popular cities serviced by budget airlines, has responded by restricting Segway tours, imposing a halt on hotels opening in the city centre and clamping down on Airbnb rentals.


In response to threats that the historic Croatian city might lose its UNESCO status, drastic measures have been taken to curb visitor numbers – especially in the cruise sector.

Mayor Mato Frankovic has pledged to cap the number of tourists permitted to enter the Medieval-walled old town to a maximum of 4,000 per day. “We will lose money in the next two years – a million euros maybe by cutting the number of tourists,” he told the Telegraph. “But in the future we will gain much more. We deserve to be a top quality destination.”

More in this Section

BBC to provide information about abortions after Call The Midwife row

More bodies found after Zimbabwe mine disaster

Climate change protesters target London Fashion Week

Shamima Begum does not regret joining Islamic State where she was ‘a housewife’


Outside the box: A tale of two Calais and suffering beyond reason

Opening Lines: I feel sorry for the dogs. Even they have a sense of shame about having to poo in public

New TV show highlights lack of cycle lanes in Ireland in comparison to rest of Europe

Online Lives: Creator of popular health and lifestyle blog Sarah Dwan

More From The Irish Examiner