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The Galapagos National Park Fee is Set to Increase: Here's Why it's a Good Idea

Date: September 26, 2019

On August 22nd, the Governing Council of Galapagos issued a press release announcing that it has started a process to implement an increase in the Galapagos National Park entrance fee. According to the release, the deadline for determining the new fee is December 31, 2019 and it will take effect one year after the new amount has been officially approved. 

IGTOA's member companies voted to ratify an official Tourism Growth Position Statement in October, 2016. The statement stated our support for an increase in park fees as a way to help curb explosive tourism growth while maximizing the benefits of tourism to the local economy.

A recent survey sent to IGTOA member companies concerning the proposed increased revealed strong support for the measure. Eighty-six percent of respondents indicated that they support increasing the fee, fourteen percent said they weren't sure, and no members expressed opposition to an increase. Seventy-seven percent of respondents support at least doubling the fee to $200. Twenty-eight percent favor increasing the fee to $300 per person and fourteen percent support increasing it to $400 per person.  Today, IGTOA's support for an increase to the fee was featured in a New York Times article. 

While there is no word yet on what the fee will increase to, there is a strong argument to be made that a substantial increase to the $100 per adult fee (for most non-Ecuadorian visitors) is long overdue:

  • Since the current fee schedule was put in place, the average cost of a week-long Galapagos cruise has tripled, yet the fee has not once been adjusted, not even to keep pace with inflation.
     
  • The current fee is significantly lower than entrance fees charged by other premiere national parks and World Heritage Sites around the world. Serengeti National Park, for example, charges $60 per day, per adult, for non-Tanzanian visitors. The $100 Galapagos National Park fee amounts to about $16 per visitor per day, based on the length of the average stay. 
     
  • The number of annual tourist arrivals has increased from 173,000 to 276,000 (60%) just since 2010. According to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, this growth poses a direct and immediate threat to the biosecurity of the archipelago. Increased tourist arrivals and the concomitant increase in the size of the local population have resulted in ever-increasing cargo shipments and air traffic, the primary vectors for the arrival and dispersal of new invasive species from the mainland. An increase in the fee should help slow tourism growth and encourage people considering a Galapagos trip to be sure of their motivations and, if necessary, to plan further ahead and save enough to make the most out of it. Such visitors would likely have a greater positive economic impact on the local community. 
     
  • The Galapagos National Park has grown increasingly expensive to manage and protect as both the number of visitors and the size of the local population has skyrocketed over the past three decades. The Galapagos National Park Directorate routinely faces budget shortfalls and often lacks basic equipment needed to do their jobs. An increase in the park fee should provide a critical increase in funding for park management and protection. 

In the coming weeks, IGTOA will submit a letter to the Governing Council of Galapagos voicing our support for an increase in the park fee based on our official Tourism Growth Position Statement. 

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Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.


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