Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia has applauded Virgin Australia's decision to resume direct flights to Uluru.
The route resumption will see Virgin Australia flights return to Uluru since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with bookings open for travellers to book direct flights from Melbourne and Brisbane to the iconic landmark.
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia CEO, Matt Cameron-Smith, said the Virgin Australia services will have positive flow on effects for the Indigenous business sector.
"The return of Virgin Australia to the spiritual heart of the nation represents significant progress for tourism to Central Australia and particularly for Indigenous employment, tourism and training at Ayers Rock Resort, Uluru," Mr Cameron-Smith said.
Mr Cameron-Smith said whether visiting Uluru is a bucket list trip or a much-loved destination, visiting one of Australia's most culturally-significant landmarks is a must-do for international and Australian travellers alike.
"These new routes deliver more choice for travel to the NT, but also an abundance of convenient international connections through Virgin Australia's global network of partners," he said.
"Demand to visit Uluru is incredibly strong – driven by a wealth of amazing cultural experiences including the world-first $10 million cultural drone and storytelling experience, Wintjiri Wiru.
"We can't wait to roll out the red carpet for Virgin Australia's return to the Red Centre."
The decision makes Virgin Australia the second airline to announce the new route due to the Northern Territory Government's Territory Aviation Attraction Scheme.
Virgin Australia CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, said the airline is once again looking forward to connecting both Australian and international tourists to the spiritual heartland of Australia.
"Uluṟu is a special place in Australia and a cultural landmark that identifies this wonderful country to the world," Ms Hrdlicka said.
The connection will see Virgin offer routes from Melbourne and Brisbane for the first time.
The forecast demand from these cities, coupled with excellent connectivity from our international airline partners, will provide a much-needed tourism boost to the region," Ms Hrdlicka said.
"Greater competition in the market and more seat capacity to Uluru will also provide travellers with more choice and value next time they fly to the Red Centre."
Northern Territory Minister for Tourism and Hospitality, Joel Bowden said the return of Virgin Australia services to Uluru was a direct result of the Territory Aviation Attraction Scheme, which was designed to improve aviation access and connectivity to the Territory, with this success achieved in partnership with Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.
"Uluru is a must-do destination and these new flights will make it easier for Australian and international tourists to visit Uluru, which supports Central Australia's tourism growth, boosts jobs and generates new visitor expenditure," Mr Bowden said.
"Around half of all visitors to the Lasseter region, which includes Uluru, also spend at least one night in Alice Springs and so these new services will provide a broad benefit across the entire Central Australia region.
Virgin Australia's flights to Uluru will commence 6 June 2024, giving travellers ample time to enjoy the Territory's peak tourism season.