Expected increase in the Galápagos National Park Fee in 2020

The delicate balance between tourism and conservation - Posted by Marianne Salmans

“Choose a journey where you enjoy the unique nature, whilst knowing that you are traveling with operators who respect the environment in order to protect the same nature you are admiring.”

Tourism is the third largest export industry in the world after chemicals and fuels. To travel brings hope, prosperity and understanding of mankind and nature to many people around the world. In the delicate balance between increasing tourism and the pressure on our natural environment, we seek how to enable this powerful global transformative force to contribute to preserving and enriching the environment, rather than causing its destruction.

Just like almost any other special place on our planet, also the Galápagos Islands have experienced an explosive increase in the number of visitors. It has almost doubled in ten years: around 275,000 people visited the islands in 2018, an increase of around 173,400 compared to 2008.

Increase in tariff

To protect the sustainability and nature conservation of the Archipelago, the Ecuadorian government is currently working on a proposal to increase the National Park entrance fee. Visitors currently pay $100, an amount that has remained unchanged for 20 years. The current proposal speaks of $200 for those who stay at least three nights on the mainland of Ecuador and $400 for those who stay only one or two nights on the mainland. No later than 31 December 2019, the ministry will announce whether, how and when this new measure will come into effect. The higher income will be used to improve sustainability, and conservation management. We will of course keep you informed of developments via our website.

What can you do to help?

The sharp increase in the number of visitors is only due to the fact that the islands have become more accessible due to the increase in inexpensive hostels and the sharing economy such as Airbnb. Unfortunately, many of these new accommodations, and the day trips organized from there, do not always meet the strict environmental requirements and cause much greater damage to the ecosystem than the traditional form of ecotourism. The lower costs unfortunately create the perception that the islands are a nice destination for a relaxing beach holiday among the sea lions; the type of destructive tourism for which the islands are neither suitable nor intended.

For decades, the genuine nature lover has chosen to visit the islands on expedition ships, a type of exploration that has been constant for many years because no new licenses for ships are issued. These small-scale vessels are obliged to go into dry dock every two years for major maintenance, they comply with the strictest rules when it comes to waste water filtration, correct collection and disposal of waste, limiting the use of plastic, offering biodegradable amenities, the right engines etc. Also, good land-based accommodations such as Golden Bay, Montemar, Galápagos Safari Camp and Finch Bay take protection of the environment very seriously and offer a responsible experience if you prefer to stay in hotels.

How can you help? Choose a journey where you enjoy the unique nature, whilst knowing that you are traveling with operators who respect the environment in order to protect the same nature you are admiring.

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