Supporting Sustainable Tourism in the Galapagos Islands
As one of the most unique places on the planet, the Galapagos Islands attract thousands of nature lovers each year, who come to explore the diverse landscape and experience wildlife encounters. Anyone who embarked on the Galapagos wildlife voyage, or indeed seen in any capacity, has a responsibility to help maintain its gentler ecological system.
Traveling with Responsible Operators Supporting Sustainable Tourism in the Galapagos Islands
Supporting sustainable tourism in the archipelago begins by choosing a reputable carrier for travel. It is important to check the background and operator’s “green credentials” to ensure that their Galapagos wildlife travel voyage promotes responsible practice.
Follow the National Park Rules
The archipelago is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, and the National Park Directorate has set 14 rules that everyone who visits the Galapagos wildlife shipping area is asked to respect.
The rules include provisions such as traveling only with authorized operators and guides, and reminding visitors that the law actually protects the local wildlife. However, outside of legality, it is up to individual individuals to follow up and understand that their choices and actions while in the archipelago have far-reaching effects. Supporting Sustainable Tourism in the Galapagos Islands
Food, herbs and animals: This is very important for the balance of eco systems where no foreign food, plants or animals are brought into the area. Visitors must commit to fully cooperate with quarantine officers during any inspection or inquiry of any information.
Souvenirs: Unfortunately, some unscrupulous sellers can try to sell souvenirs made of forbidden substances. These include items made of lava stone, animal parts, clamshells, black coral or real wood. Under no circumstances should this be purchased, as the practice is illegal. Visitors are obligated to report any incident if they are approached to purchase such items.
Leave No trace: This is one of the most basic sustainable travel rules, and this is even more important in this pure and isolated environment. This requires aspects such as throwing or recycling garbage and smoking or fire prohibition.
Wildlife: Garden governance encompasses not only the environment, but also the wildlife of the inhabitants. The rule states that humans should keep at least six feet of animals at any time, even if they approach it. Giving wildlife is strictly prohibited and flash photography is not allowed. (Photography and professional videography must be approved by the garden directorate.) While animals can be very brave and curious, it is important to keep in mind that the wildlife, and must remain wild.
Keeping the environment clean: Any marine tourism practices are not allowed (although diving and snorkeling are permitted in designated areas). Air activity is also prohibited in this region. Supporting Sustainable Tourism in the Galapagos Islands
Vision for the Future
Over the past decade, the conservation of the islands has been supported by various strategies to extend the protection of terrestrial and marine landscapes, including the ban on commercial fishing and the creation of Marine Reserves. In addition, the authorities have amended the law to prevent nonresident residents from spotlighting: it is now required that a person stay on the island for five years before being allowed to apply for residence and start a tour business. Another warning to set up a touring business is that “half of all the money gained by the local tourism industry must be reinvested into conservation initiatives.”
Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility
For anyone lucky enough to enjoy the journey of a lifetime in a wildlife cruise in the Galapagos, it’s important to understand and appreciate this amazing place: the most unique place on the planet and a virtual life lab that must be preserved at all costs
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance writer with special interests in the Galapagos Islands. For those interested in the Galapagos wildlife voyage, Marissa recommends travel plans organized by Naturetrek, which brings unforgettable sightings of various species in one of the most spectacular areas on Earth.