Galápagos Tourism Backfires

Tourist inspects a giant tortoise. Photo: Jonathan Tourtellot

Famed Charles Darwin Research Station at Risk

It’s often said that tourism is a two-edged sword. If so, then nowhere do both edges gleam more brightly and sharply than in the Galápagos. Now, with a weird, backhand snicker-snack, the tourism sword is slashing at the same renowned scientific institution that it has also helped: the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) on Santa Cruz island. A squabble over tourist dollars is threatening the survival of the Research Station, which works to protect the flora and fauna that tourists come to see.

For decades, tourism revenues have provided the incentive to protect the archipelago’s unique wildlife. Giant tortoises, Galápagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, the distinctive finch species that informed Charles Darwin’s work on evolution—all have inspired tens of thousands of visitors and earned the volcanic archipelago one of the very first World Heritage inscriptions.

Galápagos tourist inspects a giant tortoise. Photo: Jonathan Tourtellot

Tourism also brings huge risks, fosters greed, and generates unexpected consequences. The stakes are high: In the Galápagos, tourism is growing. Fast. On an archipelago with a resident population of about 30,000, annual tourist visitation has now topped 200,000. Imagine 20 jet loads of 200 tourists arriving every week, —> Read More Here


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