Easter Island, a popular Pacific Ocean tourist destination, will reopen to the world on August 1 after it was closed for more than two years due to an epidemic, the Chilean government said on Friday. Located 3,500 kilometers west of the Chilean coast, the island is world-renowned for its “moaiಿಸ್s”, massive stone statues buried in the earth in human form. (Also read: Thailand allows reopening of bars, pubs and karaoke clubs to attract tourists)
“It is agreed that the opening of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) will take place on Monday, August 1, 2022,” the Ministry of Economic, Development and Tourism said in a statement.
The original restart date was February, but that plan did not materialize under the government of former President Sebastian Pinera.
After leftist President Gabriel Boric took office in March, officials devised a new plan to reopen the island.
After the first reported cases of coronavirus in the country, domestic and international tourism was the island’s main source of revenue before the flights to and from flights on March 16, 2020.
Easter Island currently has only one weekly flight, operated by Latam Airlines. From August 1, the ministry said it will operate three flights per week via Latham to transport tourists.
The Chilean government has set a prerequisite that the local Kovid-19 vaccine rate must reach 80 percent to reopen tourism. The current vaccination rate is approximately 73 percent of the island’s 10,000 inhabitants.
Its only city, Hanga Roa Medical Center, does not have an intensive care unit, but has respirators. An emergency flight to the mainland takes about five and a half hours.
The island has only a handful of coronavirus cases. According to local authorities, no hospitalizations or deaths were reported in the outbreak.
In October, Easter Island’s indigenous population held a referendum on whether to resume tourism to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The non-compliance result showed that more than 67 percent of those who voted were against the move.
The World Health Organization says that since the beginning of the epidemic, Chile has had 3.6 million cases and more than 57,000 deaths from coronavirus.
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