Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Uluru wins top tourism award

Media release
18 February 2013

The iconic Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has taken out the top prize at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, being named the country’s best major tourist attraction.

Environment Minister Tony Burke today congratulated the park’s traditional owners, board and staff on their win.

“Uluru is, in so many ways, the spiritual red heart of Australia – everyone should visit it at least once,” Mr Burke said.

“Uluru has been recognised, environmentally and culturally, as one of the most precious places on the planet with its listing on the World Heritage List.

“You can’t help but be awed by the sheer visual power and spirituality of Uluru and Kata-Tjuta. As the judges found, the world-class tourism experiences on offer at this outstanding World Heritage attraction are testament to the active management by generations of Aboriginal traditional owners.

“I have seen the hard work of traditional owners and park staff to look after this place for all Australians. The breadth of their work is incredible, covering everything from cultural tours and dot painting workshops in the Cultural Centre, to maintaining rock art and sacred sites, keeping visitors safe and looking after the stunning landscapes, plants and animals of the park.

“Just one of these animals is the mala or the rufous-hare wallaby. This little creature is sacred to Uluru’s traditional owners – the mala or rufous-hare wallaby people are their creation ancestors. Today mala are extinct in the wild, but the park is helping keep the species alive, successfully breeding them in a feral-proof paddock – a tremendous effort to save a threatened species and to keep alive traditional cultural ties.

“I know I’m not alone in my passion for Uluru. More than 250,000 people visit the park each year, many of them from overseas, delivering economic benefits back to the communities of Central Australia. From the many and varied jobs at Ayers Rock Resort, to tourists spending on hotel rooms, local artworks, souvenirs, groceries and petrol, Uluru is a place that gives back a lot to Australia.

“I’d also like to congratulate one of Kakadu’s key Aboriginal tour operators Gagudju Dreaming who took out the prize for best major tour or transport operator for their stunning Yellow Water Cruises. The award is recognition of the quality product being delivered by Aboriginal tourism businesses and Kakadu’s role as a major visitor destination.”

Uluru traditional owner and board member Sammy Wilson collected the major tourist attraction award on behalf of everyone who looks after the park, speaking passionately in his traditional language of Pitjantjatjara and in English.

“This is everybody’s award. It says ‘we’re here’ to Australia, we’re from the centre of Australia, and we thank everybody from Australia for this award,” Mr Wilson said.

“We’re working together, the Australian Government, the park, the board, the people, we’re all working together to welcome visitors to come and see us, see what we’re doing, sharing our place with people from around the world.”

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