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This popular attraction doubles entrance fees because there are five times more tourists than residents

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Tourists who want to visit the Galapagos Islands will have to pay double the entrance fee from August 1. The measure was taken because an increase in visitor numbers is putting pressure on the ecologically sensitive destination.

The Galapagos Islands, a group of about 130 islands that are part of Ecuador and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are home to about 30,000 people, although an average of about 170,000 tourists visit each year. And that number is still increasing.

The Galapagos Conservation Trust, a charity that aims to promote conservation and sustainability on the islands, has repeatedly warned about the ecological consequences of this increased popularity. “In recent years there has been a worrying growth in the number of visitors to the islands,” it said. “That is pushing waste management systems to their limits, increasing water and food insecurity, as well as the threat of devastating invasive species being introduced to the islands.”

The Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism has now announced a new measure to combat the rising number of visitors. From August 1, entrance fees will be doubled from 100 to 200 dollars, or from roughly 92 to 184 euros. There are exceptions for residents of the South American trade union Mercosur, which includes Argentina, Brazil and Peru. They will also see their entrance fees increase, but from 50 to 100 dollars. Children under 2 years old can enter for free, regardless of their nationality.

“Global Treasure”

This is the first increase in entrance fees to the Galapagos Islands since 1998. “The islands are not only a national, but also a global treasure,” said Ecuadorian Tourism Minister Niels Olsen. “It is our collective responsibility to protect and preserve this unparalleled ecosystem for future generations.”

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Whether tourists will actually be deterred by the increased entrance prices remains to be seen. The additional income, Olsen added, will go entirely to nature conservation efforts.

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