The mysterious Moai statues of Easter Island in Chile have long been a top tourist destination. However, there may now be new restrictions imposed on Easter Island tourism.
One of the most isolated places on earth, Easter Island (or Rapa Nui) is located 3,700 kilometres away from Chile. It takes a five-hour flight from Santiago to get there, and yet, Easter Island tourism has been steadily increasing over the years.
The island is home to only 8,000 residents, and the great influx of tourists and temporary residents has impacted the island’s unique culture and environment. As mayor Petro Edmunds told AFP, “Foreigners are already taking over the island. They’re damaging the local idiosyncrasy, the 1,000-year culture is changing and not for the good.”
Easter Island tourism will soon be limited
Starting this August, international travellers and Chileans who are not a part of the indigenous Rapa Nui people will only be allowed to stay on the island for 30 days or less. This has been reduced from the earlier 90-day limit.
The new measures are being put in place to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inhabitants of the island. Last year, a special conservation zone was also created around the island to protect its marine life.
Chile also plans to introduce limits on the number of overall tourists who can visit the island, though they are yet to announce what this number will be. However, as the local government’s environmental advisor Ana Maria Gutierrez said, “Environmentally, the island is very fragile,” and some worry that this is not enough to save the island’s environment.