Easter Island, 3,500 kilometers west of the Chilean coast in the Pacific Ocean, will reopen to the world after being closed to tourism for more than two years due to the pandemic, the Chilean government reported this Friday.
“It has been agreed that the opening of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) will be on Monday, August 1, 2022,” said a statement from the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism.
The arrival of people to the iconic island had previously been scheduled for February, but it did not materialize at the end of the Sebastián Piñera administration (2018-2022).
After the arrival of the leftist Gabriel Boric to the government in March, the authorities designed a plan to reopen Easter Island, whose main source of income was national and international tourism before the paralysis of flights on March 16, 2020 after the first cases of coronavirus in the country.
This island territory of Chile is famous throughout the world for its Polynesian landscapes, its unique beauty and its iconic moais – stone statues carved in human form – belonging to the original Rapa Nui people.
The island now has only one weekly flight from the Chilean-Brazilian company Latam with restricted passenger entry. From August 1 there will be two or three weekly flights of the same airline to take tourism.
Among the conditions established by the government for the reopening to tourism, it is essential to “reach 80% (vaccination rate) coverage” against covid-19.
Currently 73% of the population of Easter Island, of 10,000 inhabitants, is vaccinated against the coronavirus, but the medical center in the capital Hanga Roa does not have intensive care units, although it does have respirators. An emergency flight to the mainland takes about five and a half hours.
In the island hardly any cases of Covid-19. There were also no hospitalized or deceased throughout the pandemic, according to local authorities.
Despite this, the original Rapa Nui people held a consultation on October 25 to find out if the population wanted the island to open up to tourism or not. The non-binding result was 67% against.
Chile registers 3.6 million cases and more than 57,000 deaths from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. The vaccination rate in the country with a complete schedule is 91.2%; while 81.8% have a booster dose and 40.4% have a second booster, in a total of 18.9 million people over 3 years of age.