Chile will reopen Easter Island to tourists in August
Easter Island, will reopen to visitors starting Aug. 1 after access was restricted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chile’s government said on Friday.
Easter Island, located in the Chilean Polynesia, is considered the most isolated place in the world. Has over a thousand stone statues, giant heads that were carved centuries ago by the island’s inhabitants, which have brought it fame and UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
[23 May 2022 Update]
“It has been agreed that the opening of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) would take place on Monday, August 1, 2022,” said a statement from the ministry of economy, development and tourism.
The original reopening date was February, but that plan did not materialize under the government of former president Sebastian Pinera.
Authorities drew up a new plan to reopen the island after leftist President Gabriel Boric took office in March.
The island’s main source of revenue was domestic and international tourism before flights to and from it were grounded on March 16, 2020, following the first reported cases of coronavirus in the country.
Sanitary measures planned for the openning
Easter Island currently has only one weekly flight, operated by the Latam airline. From August 1, up to three flights per week will be operated by Latam to transport tourists, the ministry said.
The Chilean government has set a precondition that the local Covid-19 vaccination rate must reach 80 percent in order for tourism to reopen. The current vaccination rate among the island’s 10,000 inhabitants is approximately 73 percent.
The medical center of its only city, Hanga Roa, does not have an intensive care unit, but is equipped with respirators. An emergency flight to the mainland takes about five-and-a-half hours.
The island has had only a handful of cases of coronavirus. No hospitalizations or deaths have resulted from the outbreak, according to local authorities.
The Mysteries of the Rapa Nui
A mysterious halo surrounds this island that has more than 1000 moai, giant stone heads that rise from the earth and maximum exponents of the ancestral culture of the Rapanui, an ethnic group that originally inhabited this land. These first inhabitants arrived sailing from Tahití in the XIX century. The discovery of the moai led to numerous unsolved hypotheses. Recent archaeological works confirmed that, under the heads and torsos of these stone giants, their bodies were buried in the earth.