Easter Island, one of Chile’s most popular tourist destinations, will resume to tourists on August 1 after being closed to visitors at the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chilean government said on Friday.
Nearly a thousand stone sculptures, huge heads carved centuries ago by the island’s people, have gained it prominence and UNESCO World Heritage Site title. Easter Island is located over 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) off the coast of Chile.
“As of August 1, an increase in flights (two or three weekly flights, depending on the epidemiological situation) and the opening of tourism will be permitted, subject to criteria that will be informed promptly,” the economics ministry said in a statement.
The government has stated that it will upgrade health facilities in the remote island in the midst of the Pacific Ocean famed for its stone Moai statues in the event of a coronavirus outbreak. The government also intends to provide incentives to small companies affected by the epidemic.
When the epidemic began in March 2020, residents of the island resisted the presence of visitors, even taking over the airport to prohibit flights from the mainland.
The administration has begun an official engagement with the local community and the state to “find a solution to the territorial conflict that has lasted for over 50 years,” according to the statement.
Residents decided to quit occupying the airport in exchange for the government to conduct compensation and historical acknowledgment measures.