A coffee shop awaits the arrival of patrons on the island of San Cristobal. (Photo by Julie Nietz)

Economy

Economy

A coffee shop awaits the arrival of patrons on the island of San Cristobal. (Photo by Julie Nietz)

Detailed information about the size and structure of the Galapagos economy has not been readily available. More up-to-date information will be made public when the Governing Council of Galapagos shares its analysis of Ecuador’s 2010 Economic Census in mid-2012.

According to Epler (2007), the following sectors of the Galapagos economy generated a total of $185.8 million from June 2005 to May 2006:

  • Tourism (53%). Tourism chartThis major component of the Galapagos economy, tourism employs an estimated 40% of local residents. It is the primary driver of immigration, infrastructure development, and overall consumption.
  • Public sector (38%). As explained in the section on Governance in Galapagos, the public sector in Galapagos grew initially during Ecuador’s oil boom (1973-1983) and has continued to expand with the growth of the resident population. Higher salaries offered to public sector employees have been a source of wage distortions in the local economy.
  • Conservation and science (6%). Non-profit, multi-lateral and bilateral conservation and science programs have represented a significant component of the insular economy.
  • Fishing (3%). While the fishing sector has received much attention from politicians, policy makers and the national and international media, this sector plays a small and shrinking role in the overall insular economy. The sector has been driven by international demand for sea cucumbers and spiny lobsters. According to Hern et. al (2006), gross income from these two fisheries added to the white fish fisheries generated US $7 million in 2006. Since that time, revenue has decreased significantly due to the dwindling populations of these species. 
  • Agriculture represents a very small part of the economy, but more activity in this sector is critical to lessen the islands’ dependence on imported produce—one of the greatest sources of introduced species. Unfortunately, many farms have been abandoned, as owners have sought employment in the tourism sector. In recent years, several farmer groups and cooperatives have begun low-input greenhouse production of vegetables, which require fewer chemicals and efficient irrigation techniques.

Note: This section of the GC website will be updated when the Galapagos data associated with the 2010 Economic Census is made available.

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