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Ecuador raises entrance fees to the Galapagos Islands

Updated: Mar 19

Sea lions at Galapagos

Located off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands offer unique natural and animal worlds. However, they recorded a huge influx of visitors last year. In response, Ecuador has now decided to double the entry costs for tourists.

About a thousand kilometers off the coast of Ecuador lies a unique natural wonder: the Galapagos Islands. This archipelago is home to a variety of flora and fauna that is unique in the world, including the majestic giant tortoises, playful sea lions, imposing marine iguanas, distinctive blue-footed boobies and the unique Galapagos penguins.

Biological diversity is staggering and played a central role in Charles Darwin's studies of the theory of evolution. The islands are home to more than 45 species of birds, 42 species of reptiles, 15 species of mammals and 79 species of fish, all endemic, as well as over 500 species of plants. This rich biodiversity is protected by the islands' status as a national park.

The Galapagos National Park, which covers an area of approximately 8,000 square kilometers, is an archipelago of volcanic origin. This gives the region its unique landscape full of extraordinary rock formations, solidified lava flows and volcanic cones. The islands were recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site (1978) and as a Biosphere Reserve (1984) due to their extraordinary natural beauty.

These fascinating islands are not only an important research focus for scientists worldwide, but also attract numerous visitors from different countries. In order to protect the incomparable flora and fauna, various protective measures have already been introduced. These regulations have recently been further tightened.

Higher tourist fee decided

Strict regulations for visitors are already standard on the Galapagos Islands and dictate behavior towards nature: These include maintaining a minimum distance of two meters from the animals, only allowing photography without flash and an absolute ban on smoking. It is also forbidden to make any changes in the ecosystem, among many other rules. Violations of these provisions may result in penalties.

In addition to these rules of conduct, a fee is payable for access to the islands. So far this is 100 US dollars, the equivalent of around 93 euros. However, anyone planning to visit this natural wonder in the future will have to be prepared for higher expenses.

On February 24, 2024, the Galapagos Islands Governing Council voted to increase entry fees to the nature reserves - a first in 26 years. The new fees mean that locals will have to pay 30 US dollars (around 28 euros) and international guests will have to pay 200 US dollars (around 185 euros). The implementation of these new prices is scheduled for six months after the announcement, according to an official notification from the government.

Visitor numbers should be stabilized

The increase in entrance fees aims to support a tourism concept that harmonizes with the conservation measures already implemented for nature, favors local communities and regulates the number of visitors to the islands, according to the official statement.

This strategy is also recognized in a UNESCO report, specifically the “Report on the Conservation of World Heritage Sites”. It cites curbing tourism growth as a priority to protect both the ecosystem and the lives of Galapagos residents. The report highlights the importance of sustainability-focused tourism to stimulate the local economy through the islands' unique natural treasures.

According to an article in the Ecuadorian newspaper “ El Universo ,” a total of 304,185 tourists visited the archipelago from January to November 2023, a figure that exceeds that of the last four years and, according to experts, is above what is considered sustainable tourism.


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