When misbehaving tourists get in trouble, who foots the bill?
Australians aren’t happy with three tourists who reportedly ignored pleas not to climb Uluru (a sandstone monolith Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park) and became stuck atop the iconic landmark, sparking a costly, 11-hour rescue mission.
The three Australian men, all believed to be aged 23, were climbing the iconic monument Monday when they strayed off the path and became stuck in a crevice.
Specialist vertical climbers with the Northern Territory emergency services team reached the trio about midnight and brought them safely to the ground about 3:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
Many Aussies took to social media to mock and condemn the tourists, who went ahead with their climb despite pleas from local Anangu people to stay off Uluru.
They were branded “idiots,” with many commentators suggesting they should have been left on the rock.
Climbing Uluru is not banned — thousands of tourists do it every year — but signs near the landmark urge visitors to keep off certain pathways and to respect its sacred significance.
The great debate over whether or not people should climb Uluru reignited recently when the Northern Territory’s chief minister Adam Giles said he could see the economic benefits of allowing people to climb it, comparing it to the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
But the experience has been dangerous for some climbers. In June last year, a Taiwanese tourist had to be pulled out from the rock with multiple injuries after becoming trapped in a crevice for more than 24 hours.
The 27-year-old was taken to a local hospital and suffered from hypothermia, head injuries, fractures to his pelvis and several limbs after he fell into the crevice. The tourist fell after becoming separated from two companions and taking an alternative route back to base.
Last month, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia released incredible footage of the 600 million-year-old monolith from the first drone ever given permission to operate inside Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.