Galapagos Islands to double tourist entry fees amid concerns over rising visitor numbers

Tourists to the Galapagos Islands will be asked to pay twice as much in entry fees from this year amid concerns that a rise in visitor numbers is putting pressure on the ecologically sensitive destination. Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism has announced the new fees, which will take effect on August 1, 2024.

The entry fee will go from $100 to $200 for nationals of almost all countries, except for other members of the South American trade bloc Mercosur, which includes Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. Mercosur members will now have to pay $100 per person, up from $50. Children under age two can visit for free, regardless of nationality.

This is the first increase in Galapagos entry fees since 1998.“The Galapagos Islands are not only a national treasure but a global one. It is our collective responsibility to protect and preserve this unparalleled ecosystem for future generations,” Niels Olsen, Ecuador’s tourism minister, said in a statement shared with the Galapagos Conservation Trust. Olsen added that the additional money will go toward conservation efforts for the islands, which are 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) off the coast of mainland Ecuador.

The Galapagos are a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of more than 100 islands. The islands, nicknamed a “living museum,” are home to many rare or endangered plants and animals.Only some 30,000 people live on one of the Galapagos islands, but about 170,000 tourists visit in a typical year.The Galapagos Conservation Trust, a UK-registered charity focused on promoting conservation and sustainability on the islands, has warned of ecological consequences from rising visitor numbers.

“Recent years have seen worrying growth in the number of visitors to the Islands, driven by a sharp increase in land-based tourism,” it said on its website.

“This is pushing waste management systems to the limit, exacerbating water and food insecurity, and increasing the threat of devastating invasive species being introduced to the Islands.”

Scientific discoveries continue to be made in the archipelago. A previously unknown coral reef, believed to be thousands of years old, was discovered by scientists last year.In 2021, UNESCO issued a report on the islands and the state of conservation efforts there. The report commended the Ecuadorean government for reducing illegal fishing and controlling the spread of invasive species but had requested an update by 2024.The destination’s global profile could be raised this year by a new movie, directed by Ron Howard, exploring a true-life story of scandal, sexual liberation and murder which unraveled on a Galapagos island in the 1930s. “Eden,” to be released later this year, is set to star Sydney Sweeney, Vanessa Kirby, Ana de Armas and Jude Law.

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