Major Katherine region tourist attraction Cutta Cutta Caves won't open in 2020.
The financial and logistical impact of COVID-19 has left Cutta Cutta licencees Nitmiluk Tours with insufficient staff to open the unique attraction.
The organisation would usually have '80-90' staff by this time of year, but is instead stretched thin with just 13.
CEO Jane Runyu-Fordimail said given Nitmiluk National Park brings in almost 25 times the amount of visitors, Nitmiluk Tours has to focus its resources there rather than the caves for 2020.
"I understand people will be disappointed but with the way COVID-19 has impacted us we can't open the caves this year," she said.
"As a tourism organisation we just don't know where we are at the moment, we don't know if there will be a second wave and so we don't want to stretch too far.
"We are welcoming locals and tourists back to the Gorge and that's going really well, but we lost almost all of our staff for this year thinking we wouldn't be able to open.
"There's just too much uncertainty still for us to be getting all of our staff back and we don't even know if they're available now.
"The Gorge is our priority so that's where we're putting our attention and resources," Ms Runyu-Fordimail said.
Given Cutta Cutta was only transferred over to Nitmiluk Tours in 2018, the Katherine Times questioned whether a government body might be able to take over for this year.
A spokesman for NT Tourism said the specialised nature of staff required to run cave tours means that won't be a possibility.
"The decision by Nitmiluk Tours to focus on Nitmiluk National Park and not run tours at Cutta Cutta Caves this year is a commercial decision based of the impacts of COVID-19," they said.
"Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park has on average just over 11,000 visitors a year compared to Nitmiluk National Park with more than 260,000.
"The caves tour require specially trained guides. The Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture does not have capacity to run the cave tours at this point.
"We look forward to continuing to work with Nitmiluk Tours and to returning normal cave tours in 2021," they said.
For a full list of what is and isn't available in the Katherine region, head to https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/plan-your-visit/check-park-open-katherine.
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