Sunrise industry: the new view of Uluru is a sight worth millions

Dawn of a new era ... the new platform.
Dawn of a new era ... the new platform. 

A $21 MILLION viewing area of Uluru that gives tourists a spectacular view of the rock at sunrise officially opens this morning.

Tour operators hope several new viewing platforms landscaped into dunes will repair damage to Uluru's image after revelations last month tourists have been defecating on the top of the rock for years.

The viewing area is the largest item of infrastructure in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. More than 300,000 tourists visit the area each year, contributing an estimated $400 million to the Australian economy.

The project includes 1600 metres of walking tracks, shade shelters and toilets in a section of the park that had been previously closed to the public.

The Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, calls the project a springboard for a range of new visitor experiences, opening up new opportunities for indigenous and tourism businesses. He said traditional indigenous owners chose the site.

"[They] want these visitors to come here, to feel the spirit of the country, to enjoy the wonderful landscapes and to learn more about them and their culture," he said.

But controversy surrounds a request by traditional owners for tourists not to climb the rock on cultural grounds. Many tourists are ignoring the request.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, believes tourists should be able to climb the rock.

Mr Garrett will decide on whether to close the climb after reviewing dozens of submissions.

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