Tourists begin a nature hike on a volcanic Galapagos beach nestled in a turquoise bay. (Photo by Avihu Hiram)
Tourism has been the main economic activity in the Galapagos Islands since the mid-1970s. The Galapagos model of nature tourism is based on a system of guiding, visitor control, interpretation and management that has been adopted by other premier ecotourism sites throughout the world.
In recognition of the fact that different islands, and even areas on the same island, have distinctive aesthetic attributes, flora and fauna, concentrating the impacts of tourism was a central theme in designing and managing tourism in Galapagos. For this reason, Galapagos tourism is designed to have minimum impact on the physical environment and is monitored carefully to ensure that there is no or little impact on wildlife behavior or health. For more than four decades, use of tour boats as “floating hotels” was deemed as minimally invasive and only recently has there been investment in land-based tourism. Coupled with a strong emphasis on education and interpretation, Galapagos tourism has been a positive force for conservation in the islands.
As isolated sites such as Galapagos become more readily accessed, and tourist numbers grow exponentially, thoughtful visitors question the advisability of visiting Galapagos. Is it possible to “love Galapagos to death?” We believe that visitors to Galapagos are the islands’ most ardent and effective advocates. Choosing your tour wisely will help reduce unintended impacts on the islands while providing you with what is widely acknowledged as one of the most extraordinary opportunities to engage with natural and natural processes in the entire world.
As a sustainable traveler, you should support businesses that conserve natural resources, protect the unique biodiversity of Galapagos, and contribute to the well-being of local communities. You will also help to ensure that these treasures will also be there for future generations to enjoy.
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.