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6 Positive Effects of Sustainable Tourism in the Galapagos

User Avatar Author: Chris Klassen
5 years ago - July 5, 2019

Reading time: 6 mins

Tourism to the Galapagos Islands can be sustainable. The Galapagos National Park was founded on a responsible tourism model, without which the archipelago project would not be sustainable. A unique ecosystem where penguins and iguanas bask calmly under the soft garúa drizzle, it’s easy to see why the Galapagos Islands were once known as Las Encantadas, The Enchanted Isles. A magical place that is also uniquely fragile. This blog will teach you about the 6 positive effects that ecotourism has in the archipelago that inspired Darwin.

1. Tourists are vital for the conservation efforts in the Galapagos

“Overtourism” might have a negative impact on any destination in the world and that is why it’s everyone’s duty to follow certain rules when it comes to enabling sustainable tourism. First of all, keep in mind that your presence in the Galapagos serves as a considerable source of income for the locals. Labor laws require that all companies operating within the Galapagos specifically hire the inhabitants of the islands as well as care for their wellbeing.

Sea lion next to tourists in the Galapagos Islands

Sea lion next to tourists in the Galapagos Islands

You too can become a part of this effort when you make sure that you travel with companies that have policies aimed at sustainable tourism and that keep locals at the heart of their operations. Also, don’t forget to pay the National Park entrance fee ($100*), as these funds go directly into the preservation of the Galapagos.

*This fee is subject to change in keeping with conservation policies.

2. The tour company that you choose when booking your trip to the Galapagos can make all the difference.

Finding the right travel agent, or Destination Expert, can be difficult. Fortunately, there are tour operators that hold themselves to a high standard when it comes to the wellbeing of the archipelago and the world at large. Ask your Destination Expert if their company has strong sustainable tourism policies in place.

Group of visitors with a Naturalist Guide in the Galapagos

Group of visitors with a Naturalist Guide in the Galapagos

Are they supporters of the National Park? Do they hire locals? Are they involved in conservation efforts? ¿Do they have a Carbon Neutral policy? How is your operator different from all the rest? Don‘t be shy! These questions are valid and show that you are serious about the wellbeing of the islands and the environment. Would you like to know more? Click here to find out about our products.

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3. UNESCO and the Galapagos National Park are an essential part of the journey to the Enchanted Isles

The National Park was created by the Ecuadorian government with the intention of enabling sustainable tourism in Galapagos.  What’s more? The Galapagos are one of the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Consequently, the National Park holds itself to the highest possible standards with respect to regulating human presence within the archipelago, all of this with the goal of preserving the flora and fauna of the uninhabited islands. How are visits to the uninhabited parts of the archipelago handled? Scientific research has determined that supervised visits of the uninhabited islands during the day are the best way of preserving the park’s ecosystem.

Wooden path on the island of Bartolome in the Galapagos

Wooden path on the island of Bartolome in the Galapagos

These visits must be led by certified naturalist guides that are capable of supervising groups as they trek through the approved trails. Visiting the islands that form the National Park without the supervision of a naturalist guide is not allowed under any circumstance. If you feel your tour operator is not following the rules, you have the right to report them. Always verify a company’s offer to visit the National Park by making sure they do tours in with naturalist guides that are trained and certified by the National Park itself.

4. Cruise trips are still one of the best ways to visit the islands

Contrary to popular belief, certified cruise ships are the most eco-friendly way to travel around the National Park. These ships are self-sufficient and they minimize the impact that visitors have on the archipelago. They are also easy to regulate: the total number of cabins per ship is reviewed and approved by the Ecuadorian government. Cruise ships are a vital component of the regulation and conservation of animal species, as they help regulate and keep an eye on the number of tourists in the Galapagos.

Expedition Vessel at a visitor site with flamingos at Isabela, Galapagos

Expedition Vessel at a visitor site with flamingos at Isabela, Galapagos

If you love animals and are looking for a Galapagos itinerary that allows you to see the largest number of species possible, cruise ships are one of the best ways to truly appreciate all the incredible flora and fauna that this unique place offers. Be a part of the conservation efforts! Follow your guide’s instructions, admire the animals while respecting their personal space and keeping a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) at all times.

5. Eco-friendly hotels are a wonderful alternative to cruises

Ships just aren’t your thing? Are you more of a landlubber land person that suffers from seasickness? Are cruise ships outside of your budget? Don’t worry! Responsible alternatives are available on land. There is a growing concern that land-based tourism (tourism based around hostels or residences on the islands) can have a negative impact on the environment. However,  the solution, in this case, is to simply make sure that you stay at hotels that have strong sustainability policies in place. You can easily do this by checking out their webpage or talking to your Destination Expert and ask for such information.

Guests enjoying the garden at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

Guests enjoying the garden at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

What are they, as a hotel, doing to minimize environmental impact? Do they use wastewater treatment plants? Do they help to keep the beaches and their surroundings clean and free of garbage? Do they offer visits to the National Park in a responsible manner? Do they hire locals? Are they partnered with certified naturalist guides? Be proactive when it comes to conservation and ask the right questions!

6. The Galapagos turn you into a conservation ambassador

Sustainable tourism in Galapagos turns you into an ambassador of conservation for one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. Are you thinking about visiting the Galapagos? Know someone dying to go? Share this list with your friends and family. Education is everyone’s responsibility and the more information that’s out there the better! Responsible travelers are a vital part of conservation efforts.

Whalewatching in the Galapagos Islands

Whalewatching in the Galapagos Islands

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