19 Aug 2020

Rapa Nui's unemployed tourism workers given jobs

7:18 am on 19 August 2020

With tourism on Rapa Nui disrupted by Covid-19, 1200 unemployed workers from the tourism sector have been given work by the island's government.

No caption

Photo: World News Daily

Rapa Nui mayor Pedro Edmunds told T13 the workers had been given jobs, including cleaning rubbish from the ocean floor and planting crops on a 20 hectare section, as well as on their own land.

About 4500 of Easter Island's 10,000 inhabitants once worked in tourism, generating 57.8 percent of the Chilean-administered islands' economy, Edmunds said.

However, it was unlikely tourists would return in their former numbers when travel restrictions were lifted, he said.

"The first planes will not arrive before October, we hope to return to what happened in 1993, where four planes a week arrived and not 15 as happened in March".

At least five cases of Covid-19 have been recorded on Rapa Nui.

The mayor said to contain the coronavirus, the entire island applied an indigenous tradition known as Tapu, where everyone stayed at home to avoid being punished by the spirits of their ancestors.

Two more repatriation flights of students and families are expected at the end of August from the mainland, and all onboard will have to "comply with strict quarantine."

Meanwhile, Maeva Riroroco from the Rapa Nui Chamber of Tourism said only 200 tourists were expected each week from October, as opposed to 3000 before the pandemic.

As well as including pandemic protocols, its thought the future shape of the Rapa Nui tourism industry will need to include new experiences, like cultural tourism.

Rapa Nui bound passengers being tested for Covid-19 symptoms.

Rapa Nui bound passengers being tested for Covid-19 symptoms. Photo: Sebastian Paoa Águila

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs