Case Study – Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands – there is nothing in the world quite like them. It is a place with a unique and beautiful world of volcanic landscapes and animals only found there, permitted by the isolation of the islands. The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean and approx. 1000 km off the coast on Ecuador.
Since the 1970´s the tourism industry has been increasing continuously ever since. With the increase in tourism also the infrastructure, e.g. boats, hotels, has been expanding. A side effect of the influx of tourists to the Galapagos animal species such as rats and cats are also ...view middle of the document...
Water sports are completely forbidden, because water- and jet-skiing is disturbing the animals and its impact on the environment is therefore too high.
All these regulations are curbing the visitors, however, for the GNPS are the tourists important. By travelling to the Galapagos Islands any visitor promotes the economy and with it the conservation of the parks. One of the biggest challenges is to wake up to sustainable ecological understanding and even to get the people to adapt the experience they made to their lifestyle.
The Galapagos National Park Service has established in 1973 the Management Plan with a maximum of 12.000 tourists per years to the islands. With the growing demand the number increased a couple of times. Currently is no limit.
The Management Plan introduced a specific carrying capacity for the different visitor sites (50 sites in total), established delineation of pathways and made a decision that tourists always have to be accompanied by tour guides. Most of the sites are only reachable by boat. The GNPS is managing the numbers of visitors for the sites by using a “fixed itinerary”. Every ship with more than 20 passengers receives a site schedule to control the number of tourist on each site.
Ships with less than 20 passengers have an open itinerary to have more flexibility. Also this system the GNPS try to move tourist from over-used areas to under-used sites.
In 1998 the “ley especial” was passed. Including this paper the National Congress and the Ecuadorian President officially nominated the Galapagos Marine Reserve a “Protected Area”. This law tries to praise conservation of the ecosystems and with it the whole environment and its sustainability.
One of the main aspects of the law is the extension of the Marine Reserve up to 40 miles around the archipelago. In this area only tourists and small fishers are allowed. The industrial fishing is completely forbidden.
Tourist fees were established to support the Galapagos National Park Service. These fees are used for example to train local residents to tour guides. Also tax incentives are paid to provide to hire locals. With this method the governments is following the neopopolism rules: employ local, to keep the money in the country and to lower the unemployment rate.
Another aspect is the introduction of new species. The problem is that tourists and migrants brought animals like rats, cats and goats to the islands. Due to the isolation of Galapagos from the mainland only rare animals lived here. The new species disturb Galapagos animalistic inhabitants and they even chase them from their familiar nesting sites. In the last years a lot of the introduced animals were eradicated and with the special law a quarantine...