Visitors' crude photo-ops raise overtourism concerns on Easter Island, expert claims

Although the mysterious Easter Island is a dream destination for many, one expert is exhausted with the not-so-funny photo-ops that tourists are reportedly taking at the iconic statues and warns that visitors' bad behavior could threaten the health of the historic site in the future.

In a new interview, archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg, the director both the Easter Island Statue Project and the Rock Art Archive at UCLA, claimed that some visitors to Rapa Nui National Park are taking crude photo-ops as of late – “picking” the noses of the statues, known as moai.

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Statues at Anakena Beach, Easter Island, Chile. (Photo by Eric LAFFORGUE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Statues at Anakena Beach, Easter Island, Chile. (Photo by Eric LAFFORGUE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

"Because of the ubiquitous nature of photography in our community, people take the same picture repeatedly. Once one person picks a nose of the moai, you can be sure there will be multiple thousands [of photos], because people are lemmings," Van Tilburg said, as per TravelPulse.

Over 900 moai dot the remote Pacific island. New policies were recently implemented to better preserve the historic park, including a designated path and rules on what statues can be visited, according to the outlet.

In addition, foreigners and Chileans who are not of Rapa Nui descent are limited to obtaining can only obtain travel visas for the island up to 30 days, a rule which took effect last year due in part to overtourism concerns.

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Over 100,000 visitors are estimated to flock to Easter Island annually, often overwhelming the isle’s 7,750 residents, Travel + Leisure reports.

The remote Pacific island, located more than 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, continues to be a source of fascination for historians. Last year, researchers, including experts from Binghamton University, worked out how ancient islanders were able to place massive stone hats on the statues.

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Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this report.