15 Nov 2010

Hotel occupation on Easter Island takes economic toll

6:29 am on 15 November 2010

The head of Chile's Hoteliers Association says now that a hotel occupation by Rapa Nui families on Easter Island seeking the return of ancestral land has lasted more than 100 days, it has begun to have an economic impact.

Mauro Magnani has told Santiago's La Tercera newspaper that Easter Island is a key tourist attraction and so far this year foreign visitor numbers are down by almost 10 percent over the same period last year.

Mr Magnani says Chile's image abroad is being affected by the occupation, adding that a solution needs to be found to the land claims to restore social and legal stability.

He says this is necessary to give investor confidence.

A court of appeal in Valparaiso has meanwhile rejected a request by the hotel owners for the occupying Rapa Nui clan to be evicted, saying such action is not the way forward to settle the land ownership issue.