January 12, 2009

Does Easter Island have Sustainable Tourism?

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is a very beautiful Island, part of Chilean territory, located in The middle of the Pacific Ocean between 27 08' latitude and 109 26' west longitude, at a distance of approximately 3760 km. west of the continent.
Rapa Nui culture is unique in the world, being part of the Polynesian cultures. But to be a very lonely and remote island, it developed beliefs, dances and plays with a high degree of endemism.
If you want to know more about Easter Island please view
www.museorapanui.cl .
Now watching from sustainable view point, Easter Island has to be all for it, from that beginning the island is an outdoor museum, Rapa Nui civilization has different stages and is possible to see each one represented. Being the most notorious Moais, these statues are carved from volcanic rock by Rapa Nui artisans. Also the island is full of remnants of ancient dwellings, caverns, petroglyphs, pictographys, as well as their celebrations and customs are alive. And most of the island is a National Park, protected by the Chilean Government.

Nowadays the principal RAPA NUI’s economy is the tourism industry, But Is this Tourism Sustainable?.
The Island population is beneficiated with the tourism from an economic view point, but what happen with the environment sustainability, especially in an ecosystem very delicate like is an island?.
Most of the island is deforested and the erosion process is very active, another way is not easy to see a tourism planning that takes the necessary importance at the biologist and cultural conservation heritage (always seeing from a planning perspective).

Another way, the tourist pressure for to know the Moais, together the less budget that CONAF (National Forestry Corporation), do that the protection being unsufficient.
Is possible to see that, in Ranu Raraku where the people doesn’t pay to enter and for CONAF doesn’t have the sufficient staff. In this place the trails don’t have a good aspect and don’t be able to clear the tourist everywhere, especially in the interior of the crater where if most of the moais.
Other places have different trail but they are in very bad state and the signals do not have in good state and others are broken or with vegetation cover. And regarding the petroglyphs these are scattered throughout the island and many of them haven’t being protected, of course it’s very costly to have in each place a person, therefore it is very necessary to establish an education program for tourists.
The tourism in Easter Island didn’t be planning, and nowadays they have a lots problems. For example with the water and the garbage.
Nowadays the hotel is growing and the last years in high season has arrived 3 cruises with a lot of people and the standards of the carrying capacity are not respected.

The positive is that the culture is very alive and the young people want to stay in the Island because it has a good economy.
I think that is very urgent that the government create an agency for tourism and environmental development for to act as a connector between the different public and private institutions in the island and at the same time establish a monitoring system of tourism and environmental development in the island, which is much needed in a ecosystem like is Easter Island.

*Photographie 1: Moai, Rano Raraku.
*Photographie 2: Trail interior Rano raraku's volcano crater.
*Photographie 3: The Tangata manu (bird-man), Rano Kau volcano.

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