SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 17, October 2016 - Page 97

he Galápagos Archipelago, located on the Equator about 1,000 km west of South America, consists of about a dozen major

islands and more than 100 smaller islands. The 7,880 km2 of land and over 45,000 km2 of surrounding ocean have been better preserved than any other comparable archipelago in the world. Organized tourism started in the 1960s, at a time when the residential population was around 2,500. Since then, the number of visitors to the Islands has risen to 200,000/year, and the residential population has increased to around 25,000. The impact of introduced species is significant, and though the capacity to manage the resulting conservation problems has increased as well, the increase of tourism-related traffic has not yet been met by a satisfactory conservation system.

1. Why do you consider LT&C an important initiative and why are you interested in membership?

Conservation and tourism managers from different parts of the world can learn from each other, particularly in the developing world, where nature oriented tourism is often a very significant source of income for individuals and governments.

2. Why is your case a good example of linking tourism and conservation?

Over the past half century, political support by the Ecuadorian government has been significant and positive. Having said that, it is clear that this support is, at the end of the day, a function of the significance of Galápagos for the Ecuadorian economy. This is where internationally led education of potential GPS customers/tourists becomes crucial; if tourists want and pay for wilderness and unspoiled land and sea, conservation investments will be made.

3. Are there plans to further improve your example of conservation-supporting tourism in the future?

Yes, particularly if others get involved!

4. How could your example be transferred to another protected area and how could your experience be shared with others?

We’ve had exchanges with National Parks in other parts of the world. The GPS National Park Service is fairly well developed and can serve as a model while recognizing its positive and negative attributes.

For more information, please visit http://www.ltandc.org/tourism-to-and-on-galapagos/, the Charles Darwin Foundation (http://www.darwinfoundation.org/en/ ) or contact Peter Kramer (pkramer@gmx.ch).

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