The mysterious nature of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) has made visiting the remote spot a dream trip for many avid travellers. But in order to preserve the environment and culture of one of the most isolated places on Earth, the island is introducing a limit to the number of tourists and how long they can stay.

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Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island.

Tourism to the island – famous for the roughly 900 Moai statues that frame its shores – has been increasing despite being more than 3700 kilometres from Chile. Travellers can reach the island on a five-hour flight from Santiago. To combat the impact that the increase is having on the less-than 8000 residents of the island, tourists will now only be allowed to stay on the island for 30 days, down from 90, reports AFP.

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Aerial view of Ranu Kao Vulcano, Easter Island.

The island’s mayor, Petro Edmunds, told AFP that “foreigners are already taking over the island”, which is impacting its long-standing culture. There is also concerns about the local environment as more people leads to more waste.

The time limit for travellers – which applies to international travellers and Chileans who are not a part of the indigenous Rapa Nui people – come into effect as of 1 August. A limit to the number of overall tourists who can visit it is likely on its way, though a number has yet to be established.

While this effort is designed to protect the island and its inhabitants, Chile has also been working to protect the local waters. Last year, a conservation area the size of France was created around the island to help preserve marine life. The region was created after the residents of Easter Island voted for it in a referendum.

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