Visitors to Australia will no longer be allowed to climb the sacred site of Uluru - formerly known as Ayers Rock - from October 2019, it has been announced.
Members of the board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park have voted unanimously to ban people from climbing the distinctive red natural structure in the future, due to concerns over the level of damage being caused to it.
Uluru is a sacred Northern Territory site for Aboriginal Australians, who have managed to reclaim the monolith by giving it its original name once again in recent years and this will be taken one step further when the climbing ban comes into force in two years' time.
The land surrounding Uluru - and the rock itself - is owned by the Anangu Aboriginal people, who have long asked tourists to respect the site and not climb it. Although the number of climbers has fallen in recent years, there are still the odd few, but this will no longer be the case from the end of 2019 onwards.
Sammy Wilson, chairman of the board behind the decision, stated: "It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland. If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site, an area of restricted access, I don't enter or climb it, I respect it.
"Closing the climb is not something to feel upset about, but a cause for celebration. Let's come together; let's close it together."
This step is an extremely positive one in the preservation of Australia's heritage, so there is no need for tourism officials to worry about the ban's impact on the area. People will still flock to Uluru to see the awe-inspiring sight for themselves, whether to show their respect to the rock and its surroundings, or to snap a sunset shot for their Instagram page.