Record tourism could harm Easter Island statues

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It's earth's most remote inhabited land, a South Pacific speck of volcanic rock so isolated the locals call it "Te Pito O Te Henua," or "The Navel of the World."

But Easter Island is a bellybutton experiencing a tourist boom -- and some are worried the onslaught of outsiders could take a toll on the very things they come to see, the gigantic stone heads known as Moais.

"More tourism, more deterioration. More visitors, more loss," said Susana Nahoe, an archaeologist who was a liaison between Chile's National Tourism Service and the island's scientific community before leaving the post two years ago, citing "differences in values."

"We are at the point now where, either we protect what we have or we lose it," she said.

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