18 October 2023

Boost needed as Uluru visitor numbers remain below long-term averages

| Rama Gaind
Start the conversation

Our first aerial view of Uluru flying at a cruising altitude of 34,000 feet. Photo: Rama Gaind.

Uluru, in the Northern Territory, is where one of the world’s oldest cultures still thrives. It’s a destination that’s not too far away, and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Sacred to Indigenous Australians, Uluru – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – shines in all its glory as ever-changing colours and countless shades of red radiate their own conspicuous warmth. Peruse the vast landscape before you, breathe in and pay attention to the natural beauty of the Red Centre. Take a moment to really capture, as I have, the biodiversity and uniqueness of the heart of Australia.

Uluru is one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks, yet the number of tourists has steadily fallen since 2021 when the figure was 127,981.

Annual visitor numbers to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (year-to-date to 30 September) shows there were 222,118 visitors in 2022. In 2023, the figure was 190,288 YTD (1 January to 30 September 2023). Visits for the equivalent period in 2022 was 174,671 tourists.

READ ALSO Unlimited opportunities for destination travel in Australia

The impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park as visitor numbers remain below long-term averages. This is primarily due to its remote location, reliance on aviation and increased competition as Australians return to overseas travel and slow return of international visitors.

As the hot summer season approaches, the national park heads into an annual quieter tourism period. There was a spike in visitors prior to the Uluru climb being closed permanently from 26 October 2019. Parks Australia figures reveal year-to-date numbers were more than 300,000 in 2017, 370,408 in 2018 and 406,821 in 2019. In 2020 numbers dropped to 93,221.

According to the Northern Territory Tourism Minister Nicole Manison there was a “social responsibility for all Australians to make sure they are travelling to the Northern Territory” to help improve economic outcomes for the jurisdiction.

Part of the blame has been placed by tourism operators and officials on flight availability and costs. A call has been made for more flights and better prices to “make sure Territorians get the services that they deserve”.

Spectacular start to the morning as dawn breaks over Uluru in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. Photo: Rama Gaind.

Summer specials

Red Centre deals are aplenty. Take up some of the exclusive offers on summer deals available now through NT Now.

Explore Uluru for memorable, mesmeric, authentic experiences. During the day, Uluru shines in all its glory as ever-changing colours and countless shades of red radiate their own distinct warmth. It almost makes the name ‘Red Centre’ feel like an understatement!

There are few places where the stars shine as brightly as they do in the outback. Far removed from the bright lights of the big cities, the stars blaze fiercely in the desert sky.

READ ALSO Pack your bags for an activity-filled family vacation in Vietnam

The cultural landscapes of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park resonate with meaning. They contain creation stories and the associated knowledge of law, relationships, plants and animals, all of which live in the shapes and features of the land.

The earthy red glow of Uluru as it basks in the glory of the rising sun will take your breath away. This is more than worth the early wake-up call. Best experienced during a small, guided sunrise tour, you’ll find a renewed sense of calm as you take in the magic of the enthralling, vibrant scarlet vistas all around you.

Many may consider Uluru to be the main event, but there is so much more to see, enjoy and experience during your visit to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. With over 101 tours, activities and attractions in and around the Ayers Rock Resort, your days will be action-packed to explore diverse wildlife and spectacular vistas.

Stroll through the ‘Field of Light’ display in the Northern Territory. Photo: Rama Gaind.

Memorable tours

Bear witness to the silent morning stillness of the Red Centre as the sun rises over Uluru. Experience the breathtaking feeling of floating silently above the outback as the morning light begins to illuminate the MacDonnell Ranges. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the incredible rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta on a helicopter tour.

Go on a camel excursion to experience the ultimate Uluru has to offer as you view the evening sky ablaze with colours as the sun sets over the park.

Another unforgettable experience is an immersive Field of Light art installation display, which is also named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku or ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’ in the local language. As darkness falls and Uluru is thrown into silhouette, Field of Light illuminates as you enjoy a three-course bush tucker menu. As far as the eye can see you observe gentle rhythms of colour light up the desert as coloured lights of the 50,000 glass spheres gently sway and come to life!

Voyages Sails in the Desert, Yulara, is conveniently positioned, putting you close to attractions and appealing dining options. Indulgent escapes await at this swish desert oasis, where soaring white sails shade more than 200 rooms and suites.

Comfortable accommodation at Voyages Sails in the Desert, Yulara, Northern Territory. Photo: Rama Gaind.

The five-star hotel beautifully contrasts Uluru’s raw natural beauty with a decidedly well-appointed outback holiday experience. Against a canvas of neutral tones and textures, the mystery, colour and wisdom of the local Anangu people is interwoven into every facet of the hotel’s modern design. Visiting the Mulgara Gallery takes you on an exploration through the unique styles and wonderful stories of Indigenous art.

Special holiday packages are on sale until 31 October 2023 for travel until 31 March 2024. Accommodation is at either Sails in the Desert, Desert Gardens or Outback Hotel.

If you can dream it, you can do it. So, make a booking … and get set to have a happy holiday!

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.