On August 1st 2018, the visit of Chile's President, Sebastian Piñera, was timed to coincide with the fist day of the application of the Residency Law for Easter Island that the Chilean Senate and Congress had approved earlier this year.
For the visitor who plans on fulfilling their dream of setting foot on the enigmatic island, you will notice little change. On check-in at Santiago airport everyone is asked to fill in a piece of paper with the details of their trip: length of stay, accommodation etc., and this is checked again as you board the plane.
The key points of this new law is that no-one can stay stay on the island for longer than 30 days, without being a prior resident or having a defined work contract. This isn't aimed solely at foreigners, but at Chileans too, which has created some hard feelings on the mainland, since Easter island still depends enormously on Chile for nearly everything.
However something had to give, and in the 20 years that I have been here, the local population has risen from 3,700 to over 8,000 people, and it was only getting more popular for people to want to move and live here. The roads and infrastructure could no longer handle all of the people, and basic services such as the island hospital were buckling under the demand.
This new law would have ideally come about 10 years ago, but congratulations must be given to the island authorities who have followed this through until now.