The Galapagos Islands
- There are 50 Galapagos Islands which lie 1'000km off the west coast of South America in the Pacific Ocean.
- Around 90% of these islands are designated as National Park. Protection began in the 1930s.
- The Islands are among the most fragile ecosystems in the world, becoming the first Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979. It is also a biosphere and a whale sanctury.
- Tourists arrive mainly on small ships that tour the island and only allow visitors to go onshore at specific locations.
- An 8-day cruise costs £800, not including the flight.
- The Galapagos Conservation Trust recieves £25 from each holiday bought, which pays for conservation work on the islands.
- The boats are all owned by the locals and take 10-16 tourists each.
- Galapagos tourism has brought great income to Ecuador.
- Some areas are over-used, oil from boats can pollute and the islands' water supply is put under pressure.
- Their are fears that the locals will prioritise money over the environment.
- The local tourism industry is developing, bringing in more income.
The purspose of eco-tourism is to pretect the environment. There is increasing blame on tourism to damage to the environment in countries with a developing tourism industry, as well as for damage to the local cultures and social impacts. Beaches become polluted, coral reefs degraded and the local economy becomes dependant on the tourist trade.
Trekking and bird watching are activities commonly enjoyed by ecotourists, who want their holidays to have as smaller an impact on the environment as possible. They prefer smaller holidays lodges, sometimes even without electricity, they eat local food and generate as little waste as possible. Local people act as their guides as their knowledge and experience is more valuable. The impact on the environment is low, but because it is so low-scale, the price paid by each tourist is high.
Eco-Tourism caters for a small but growing niche market of environmentally aware tourists, however these holidays inevitably cost more than a standard holiday, and so although people may be aware of the need for sustainable tourism, those with a smaller disposable income may be unable to afford these holidays.