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Galapagos Islands to double tourist entry fee from August 2024 to curb overtourism

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

In a bid to tackle overtourism and safeguard its delicate ecosystem, the Galapagos Islands will be doubling its entry fee for tourists starting August 2024. This decision marks a significant step in addressing the escalating pressures faced by the renowned Ecuadorian archipelago.

Currently set at $100, the new entry fee will soar to $ 200 for visitors from most countries. The move aims to curb the influx of tourists and alleviate the strain on the wildlife-rich destination, which has been grappling with the adverse impacts of increased visitor numbers.

Ecuadorian authorities, keen on protecting the islands’ unique biodiversity, hope that the revised fee structure will dissuade some visitors while simultaneously generating funds for conservation efforts, infrastructure development, and local communities.

“The Galapagos Islands are not only a national treasure but a global one,” Niels Olsen, Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, said in a statement shared with GCT. “It is our collective responsibility to protect and preserve this unparalleled ecosystem for future generations.”

Under the new fee structure, tourists from Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay will see their fees rise from $50 to $100. Ecuadorian nationals, previously paying $6, will now be subject to a fee of $30, reflecting a substantial increase.

Children under 12 years old will now face a $100 fee, up from $50, while infants under two years old will be exempt from charges. This fee adjustment marks the first increase since 1998.

The Galapagos Islands, spanning nearly 8,000 square kilometers across 19 main islands, are not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also Ecuador’s first national park. With 97 percent of the islands’ area designated as protected, the region boasts a diverse array of nearly 9,000 species, many of which are endemic.

Rising tourist numbers, nearing pre-pandemic levels, have placed immense pressure on resources and waste management systems. The risk of invasive species introduction has also intensified, threatening the islands’ fragile ecosystem.

To ensure sustainable tourism practices, measures such as a moratorium on new tourism projects and regenerative tourism techniques have been adopted. Additionally, a limit on the number of flights established in 2012 remains in force, with most visitors accessing the islands via air from mainland Ecuador.

As the Galapagos Islands continue to attract global attention and visitor interest, the decision to increase entry fees underscores the commitment to preserving this unparalleled natural wonder for generations to come.