The future of popular tourist destination Easter Island is increasingly being put under threat by mass tourism and visitors who seem more intent on snapping poor taste selfies than soaking up the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Archeologist and director of the Easter Island Statue Project, Jo Anne Van Tilburg, recently told CNN Travel that a spate of bad behaving tourists had forced her to re-concentrate her efforts from studying and protecting the island’s ancient artefacts to educating tourists on how to behave.
One trend among tourists that has been causing Easter Island residents particular annoyance is visitors taking selfies of the island’s famous giant statues — known as the moai — which make them look like they are picking the statues’ noses.
"Because of the ubiquitous nature of photography in our community, people take the same picture repeatedly,” Ms Van Tillburg told CNN Travel.
“Once one person picks a nose of the moai, you can be sure there will be multiple thousands [of photos], because people are lemmings.
"There's nothing creative or interesting or humorous about it. The herd instinct is real."
Poor travel etiquette aside, the huge influx of tourism to the resource-strapped island has been putting Easter Island under considerable strain.
During the 1980s, between 2,000 and 5,000 travellers visited Easter Island per year. These days, at least 100,000 tourists are drawn annually.
With only around 6,000 full-time residents on the island, local water reserves and other natural resources have been stretched by the huge increase in tourist numbers.
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