The establishment of regular commercial flights to the islands in 1969, began the era for the Galapagos as a
major tourist destination. The declaration of the islands as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and strong growth
in nature tourism led to exponential rise in the number of visitors. (See Galapagos History Timeline for a perspective.) From 15,000 in 1970, by the
mid-1990s the islands were receiving over 100,000 visitors per yeara number widely agreed to have a
damaging effect on the ecosystem.
Some conservation purists advocate the complete cessation of tourism. But this would simply hand the
islands over to farmers and fishermen. Since tourism is the main incentive for the Ecuadorian government to
continue conservation measures, the best policy is controlled tourism. Ecuador is recognized as a leader in
progressive approaches to managing tourism resources. The Galapagos visitor rules are among the strictest
anywhereonly certain areas (visitor sites) are accessible, no tourists are allowed off specially
marked trails and that each tour group is accompanied by a licensed naturalist guide.
The influx of tourists gives the Ecuadorian government $10 million per year through park fees and perhaps
ten times that amount in tourism spending. Tourism is the Ecuador's fourth largest income
sourcebadly needed foreign income.In 1999, the park fee money was set aside for spending only on
Galapagos-related needspreviously it had simply entered the government coffers.
Click below for people traveling photos and information:
Coming soon: visitor sites, boats, lodgings, airports
"Twenty years from now you will be
more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones
you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe
harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."