The Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) is committed to maintaining the quality of visitor sites in terms of infrastructure, flow of visitors, and the quality of interpretation, and to ensuring that tourism activities in the archipelago adhere to the principles of ecotourism, as established in the Park’s Management Plan.
The results of the Park’s annual monitoring activities, together with reports presented by naturalist guides, and information shared by tourists, has revealed that the high demand at some sites is reducing the quality of the visitor experience. To address this problem, the GNPS recently held a workshop in which tourism operators, naturalist guides, and Park personnel worked to organize new itineraries for the 70 boats operating multi-day tours in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
During the workshop, participants analyzed and discussed different alternatives, and agreed to implement 15 day itineraries which will not visit any site more than once within a 15-day period. This arrangement would allow passengers to participate in cruises lasting five, seven or 15 days.
In 2010, the GNPS will begin the process of rolling out the new itineraries. The goal is for all tour ships operating in Galapagos to adhere to the 15 day itineraries in 2011.
The implementation of this measure will reduce visits to the most critical visitor sites, such as Bartolomé and Española by 50%.
Other complementary measures to optimize the management of the tourist experience include: visits to the towns, improved distribution of flights among Galapagos airports, zoning of ancillary tourism activities, and mechanisms for providing access to sites under special circumstances.