A Waved Albatross soars over the ocean at the popular visitor site of Punta Suarez on Espanola. (Susan Spiegel)
A Land Iguana prepares to take a bite, (Photo by Deborah Alexander)
A diver experiences the ultimate in "fish tunnels."
A pair of frigatebirds. (Photo by an Anonymous GC member)
What does “Sustainable Tourism” mean in Galapagos?
In general, sustainable tourism businesses are those that are profitable while conserving natural resources and benefiting local communities. According to SustainableTrip.org, examples of best management practices include:
conserving water and energy
supporting community conservation projects
preserving cultural heritage
recycling and treating wastes
sourcing locally-produced products in restaurants and gift shops
hiring local employees, paying them a fair wage, and offering them additional training
Please consider the following when choosing a trip to Galapagos:
Use accredited, licensed tour companies with a strong commitment to Galapagos conservation. Many of these tour companies actively support conservation through grantmaking and other financial mechanisms. We suggest some of our travel partners, but others can be found through the network established by the International Galapagos Tour Operators of America (IGTOA).
Be Prepared to Stay Awhile. As of February 2012, tour boats are now following a new set of itineraries laid out by the Galapagos National Park Service. Tour vessels will not be able to visit the same site more than once in any 14 day period, though some operators still have the flexibility to let passengers on and off during the trip should customers want a shorter stay. The longer itineraries are intended to reduce impacts to individual visitor sites as well as provide opportunities for visitors to see more sites that are not readily available on the shorter itineraries.
Carefully Consider Day Trips. Regrettably, there are unlicensed boats operating in Galapagos and their record of safety and compliance with Park rules are spotty. Should you choose a day trip, please work with a reputable local hotel which will help ensure that your trip complies with all Park regulations.
Research Land based Options Land based tourism is a relatively new modality in Galapagos and does not have the benefit of decades of visitor management research. Should you choose to add on a land trip, please work with your licensed tour company or boat operator.
Purchase Souvenirs Wisely. Galapagos-themed objects made of wood and ceramics are available on the inhabited islands for purchase, but avoid any objects made of coral, shell, or other organic materials.
A group of generous donors have offered to match every gift we receive by December 31st — up to $35,000! Every dollar you give today will go twice as far towards preserving the magnificent biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands.