How Tourism is Affecting Rapa Nui

Exploring its impact on cultural identity and sustainability

Beach of Anakena in Rapa Nui in the Background of a Moai (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk

Rapa Nui was inscribed as a World Heritage Site (WHS) by UNESCO in 1995. The WHS encompasses the area within the National Park, c. 7000 hectares (including four islets) of the c. 17,000 hectare landmass of the island.

Easter Island by Carl MydansLIFE Photo Collection

The challenges of tourism development

There are major challenges around tourism development, impacting cultural identity, and the sustainability of the island.

Easter Island by Carl MydansLIFE Photo Collection

In 2017, the recorded population of Rapa Nui was 7,750 residents with 120,000 tourists visiting the same year. Visitation to the island increased by 10,000 people in 2018. 

One Side of the Crater in Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk

The carrying capacity of the island has been a subject of much concern, with water scarcity and waste production highlighted as issues in the film ‘Eating Up Easter.’ 

Getting Ready to Fly a Drone in Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk

What is being done to help?

In 2014, Rapa Nui launched an ambitious plan to be self-sustaining.

Ahu Nau Nau in Front of the Anakena Beach in Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk

In 2017, the indigenous organisation Ma’u Henua took over management of the National Park from Chilean national forest corporation CONAF who had been controlling the archaeological sites for decades.

Easter Island by Carl MydansLIFE Photo Collection

In 2018, limits on tourist visits were reduced from 90 to 30 days to further protect both the environment and heritage sites.  

Discover more

Discover how CyArk uses 3D documentation to empower local experts.

Find out more about ICOMOS' efforts to increase engagement of cultural heritage in climate action here.

Credits: Story

Professor Jane Downes, ICOMOS Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Climate Change, and Archaeology Institute Director, University of the Highlands and Islands UK.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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