Easter Island post-pandemic tourism: What has changed

By Tychyna TetianaFeb 23, 2024 23:06 PMNews
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Easter Island post-pandemic tourism: What has changed
In total, there are 887 moai statues on Easter Island. Source: wikipedia

In the era of the global pandemic, Easter Island, located in the Pacific Ocean, has witnessed revolutionary changes. By closing its borders to tourists and isolating itself from the outside world, the inhabitants of this unique place have accepted the challenge and turned their lives into a largely internal effort.

After two years of strict self-isolation, Easter Island has entered a new stage of its development, rethinking its priorities and gaining unique self-sufficiency. What does Easter Island look like now is reported by The Travel.

In 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began around the world, it was decided to close Easter Island to visitors. This decision affected the economy as about 75% of revenues came from the tourism industry.

Residents of Rapa Nui, as the local population calls it, had to rely on themselves and do what their ancestors did: grow vegetables and fish in the ocean.

In August 2022, tourists were allowed to come to the island and stay in the most rated hotels. They were able to see what the remote Easter Island had become after two years of pandemic isolation. It was observed that the people of Easter Island had thrived in ways they hadn't realized during the pandemic and made Easter Island a better place for it.

The spirit of the umanga

During the pandemic, hardship became a source of inspiration for umanga, a spirit of teamwork and solidarity that helped the community survive and thrive. A renewed focus on self-sufficiency has led to the development of agriculture and strengthened the island's economic resilience. The locals have come to realize that dependence on tourism and external supplies is weakening their resilience and are therefore seeking greater independence and self-sufficiency.

In this new reality, the crops grown on the island are used not only to meet the needs of the local population but also to support charitable initiatives aimed at helping those in need. In this way, the pandemic has become a catalyst for change, prompting the islanders to rethink their lives.

Easter Island post-pandemic tourism: What has changed
Moai - the biggest mystery and ''brand'' of Easter Island. Source: wikipedia

Moai stone statues

The people of Rapa Nui have always tried to protect their cultural treasures, including the Moai, spread throughout Easter Island in the amount of about 900 statues. These majestic stone statues have historical significance going back to 1400 AD. Despite the destruction that occurred in the past due to tribal wars, many of them have been restored and are well preserved, although a changing climate and frequent natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods have begun to seriously erode their condition.

A huge fire in 2021 only exacerbated this problem, emphasizing the need for more active efforts to preserve this unique archaeological heritage. However, there is still no unified plan to preserve the moai as locals cannot agree on the best methods of protection and preservation.

This situation is frustrating for Pedro Edmunds Paoa, the mayor of Easter Island, especially since more and more moai are being destroyed over time. Edmonds Paoa believes that tourists coming to the island should not be taken into account when it comes to saving the moai, calling the value of the moai "incalculable." One option to preserve the statues for future generations would be to build "glass domes" over the moai.

Flight ban

Flights are still restricted on Easter Island for an indefinite period. Before the pandemic, there were 10 flights a week, as well as charter planes and cruise ships, but now there are only 2 flights a week to Easter Island.

These flights brought significant revenue to the island, but they also threatened the preservation of its cultural heritage. It is unlikely that the number of tourists will reach pre-pandemic levels in the coming years.

At the same time, the increased self-sufficiency of Rapa Nui residents may reduce their dependence on tourism and help preserve cultural traditions, making them more connected to their ancestors than ever before.

For those travellers who like to travel eco-friendly, TravelWise offers a collection of the top 10 best travel options for conscious tourists.

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