SANTIAGO, CHILE.- World Monuments Fund
(WMF), American Express
, and the Corporación Nacional Forestal de Chile
(CONAF) celebrated the completion of a sustainable visitor reception center on Easter Island in Chile on May 13th.
The new visitor center, the Centro de Recepción de Visitantes de la Aldea Ceremonial de Orongo, is located at the entrance to the Orongo Ceremonial Village, one of the most significant archaeological sites in Rapa Nui National Park and the most visited place on Easter Island. Severely impacted by increasing numbers of tourists each year, Orongo has been the focus of an intensive conservation and interpretive program supported by WMF and American Express since 2001. The visitor center is the last component of this program and serves as an introduction to the national park, providing information and educational materials for visitors as well as helping to monitor and manage visitation to the site.
"We are happy to be working with our longtime partners American Express and CONAF to complete the work at Orongo," said Bonnie Burnham, President of World Monuments Fund. "This new visitor center demonstrates how preservation work goes hand in hand with educating tourists and helping local communities to develop long-term strategies to manage sensitive sites such as Orongo."
"American Express has a long history in the tourism industry, and we know that these iconic sites, like Easter Island, can be the lifeblood of communities around the world," said Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. "We have seen the impact of our earlier work at Orongo, and know this new visitor center will be an important addition to the site and will be critical to enabling future generations to understand and appreciate this important culture."
"This type of initiative leverages both cultural preservation and ecosystem protection in very fragile places like this one," said Eduardo Vial Ruiz-Tagle, Executive Director of CONAF. "Easter Island is a landmark in the tourism world, and that is why we need to work hard to preserve its resources, as well as offer all kinds of information and education to its visitors, both national and international. This is the only way to preserve an area, by all of us knowing well what it has. Another important thing I would like to underline is the partnership in this project made by the Government of Chile, represented here by CONAF, with international entities such as the World Monuments Fund and American Express. It is in uniting our efforts that we can progress in the conservation of our own heritage for future generations."