Uluru’s traditional owners have asked visitors to respect their wishes and not climb the sandstone rock for environmental and safety reasons.

36 people have died doing the 348 metre climb since 1958.

Now only 20 per cent of visitors venture up Uluru’s red rock, in 2010 this figure was 38 per cent.

Tour operators have been aware of the situation for some time, and the fact that the Uluru climb will potentially being closed permanently. Some have started to offer other activities in the area and elsewhere.

Anangu elder Barbara Tijkadu explained to visitors why they shouldn’t climb the monolith.

“That’s a really sacred thing that you are climbing,” said Tijkadu. “You shouldn’t climb.”

The closure is not expected to happen immediately, according to a Parks Australia spokeswoman quoted on news.com.au

“We will consult both the tourism industry and operators well before any decision is made to close the climb,” she explained.

“We also want to ensure we have more alternative experiences – more indigenous-guided tours, for example – in place for visitors before that happens.”