SANTIAGO, Chile – A U.N. agency and Chile began a new program Friday to develop sustainable tourism on Easter Island, visited by 60,000 tourists a year, the United Nations said.
The program, financed by the Japanese government, will promote training and involvement of the local communities on the island in sustainable eco-tourism, U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization officials said in a news release.
“The project aims to develop tourism strategies that respect the outstanding universal value of the Rapa Nui National Park,” UNESCO said in a news release. “It is expected that the project will alleviate the growing pressure on the island’s fragile ecosystem resulting from tourism.”
Easter Island is west of Chile. Rapa Nui National Park, which contains giant Polynesian stone figures known as moai, was listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1995.
UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said the project will “reduce the negative impact of tourism … by finding a balance between the needs for the preservation of the site and the development of the island community.”
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said the program is a “remarkable initiative intended to give the local community a leading role in the enhancement and promotion of their own heritage.”