a pile of money with a face on it
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Galápagos Islands Entrance Fee to Double on August 1 2024

Expect to pay $200.00 instead of $100.00.

After 26 years of no increases, the Plenary of the Governing Council of the Special Regime of Galápagos voted in favor of the Galápagos Islands entrance fee to double effective as of Thursday, August 1 2024 — meaning that visitors who want to experience the unique natural wonders that are offered by this island province of Ecuador will be required to pay an entrance fee of $200.00 in United States dollars instead of the current $100.00.

Galápagos Islands Entrance Fee to Double on August 1 2024

Five members voted in favor of the increase at a meeting which occurred on Saturday, February 24, 2024; while four members opposed the measure. The primary purpose of the increase in the entrance fee is to update the rate of income for conservation of protected areas in the archipelago while simultaneously both controlling the promotion of tourism to focus on sustainability and the ability to energize the local economy.

The decision responds to the objectives of promoting a tourism model in accordance with the conservation actions already being undertaken, generating citizen benefits and stabilizing the number of tourists arriving in the island province. Thus, the cost for entry to protected areas in the Galápagos will be USD 30 (thirty) for nationals and USD 200 (two hundred) for foreigners. The application of the new rate will be finalized after six months.

As part of a decision at the extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh back in September of 2023 pertaining to the Galápagos Islands, the World Heritage Centre of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — which is more popularly known as UNESCO — “Reiterates its continued concern on the steady growth of tourism and commercial flights to the property and urges again the State Party to develop and implement a clear tourism strategy with a clear action plan with urgent measures to achieve the zero-growth model, including maintaining the moratorium on construction of new tourism projects and the limits on the number of flights, and to submit this strategy and action plan to the World Heritage Centre for review”.

Stabilizing the growth of the volume of tourism to maintain the well-being of both the ecosystem and the inhabitants of the Galápagos Islands is a priority: “Since 1998, when a cap was established on the total capacity of the cruise ship fleet, most of this growth is land-based visitation, which carries even larger risks of introduction and dispersal of alien species compared with ship-based tourism”, according to the Conservation Report of Properties Inscribed on the World Heritage List issued by UNESCO. “The information that tourism is strictly regulated in the property and commensurate with a zero-growth model for tourism is noted. However, statistics publicly available at the website of the Ministry of Tourism show a steep and continuous increase of visitor numbers (https://servicios.turismo.gob.ec/) from less than 12,000 at the time of inscription in 1978 to more than 270,000 in 2019 before the start of the pandemic. Notwithstanding the temporary decrease in numbers as a result of the COVID pandemic, tourist visitation numbers from January to March 2023 are reported to be 78,507, which is over than 9,500 more than in the first quarter of 2019, prior to the pandemic. The reported opening of a new flight connection to Galápagos from the city of Manta in March 2023 will only further exacerbate this trend.”

The Galápagos Islands is recognized by UNESCO as both a Natural World Heritage Site since 1978 and Biosphere Reserve since 1984.

The Plenary of the Governing Council of the Special Regime of Galápagos also seeks to strengthen the management of decentralized autonomous governments who are responsible for the provision and efficient administration of water services, environmental sanitation, waste, tourist facilities, and management of urban fauna — among others — that are capable of generating more benefits for Galápagueño citizens in terms of conservation and economic development.

The update of the fee, time of stay, age, disability status, tourist model, nationality, or legal residence in the country was considered in accordance with article 29 of the Organic Law of Special Regime of the province of Galápagos.

Final Boarding Call

Nobody likes when they are required to pay more for something without getting anything more in return — but in addition to the aforementioned benefits, increasing the entrance fee for the Galápagos Islands may also help to reduce tourism to more manageable levels.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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