Entrance Fee to Rise, Special Law for Galapagos under Revision

The government of Ecuador recognizes that Galapagos is a place like no other.  And for this reason, in 1998, it passed the "Special Law for Galapagos" (SLG), which sets out the conditions under which various activities can take place in the islands, and establishes various administrative structures to deal with issues there. For instance, it's in the SLG that the $100 park entrance fee, and its use, was fixed.

In 2008, after a constituent assembly approved a new constitution for Ecuador, some of the structures set up in the original SLG were found to be in conflict with the new constitution.  For instance, prior to the new constitution, Galapagos had the status of a Province in Ecuador (similar to a State in the USA).   The new constitution has withdrawn full provincial status for Galapagos, based on its very small population compared to that of other provinces.  The new constitution creates a governing council for Galapagos, composed mostly of a few ministers (Environment, Planning, and Tourism) and of local mayors.

The most immediate effect on the average tourist would be a proposed increase in the park entrance fee.   The current fee is $100 for people over 11 years of age, and $50 for those under 12.

The new fee will be a function of the length of stay in the islands.  A basic $120 fee will apply, to which an "environmental impact" supplement will be added.  The Environmental Impact supplement will be an additional $120 (total $240) for those staying no more than 3 nights, $30 (total $150) for people staying from 4 to 6 nights, or more than 16 nights, and $8 (total $128) for people staying from 7 to 15 nights.   To sum up:

NEW FEWS PROPOSED FOR 2012-2013 (adults):

A.   Staying 0-3 nights:   $240

B.   Staying 4-6 nights, or more than 16 nights:  $150

C.   Staying 7-15 nights:  $128


The basic $120 fee is subject to change every 2 years.  Children under 12 will pay 50%.

Over the next several days, the government will be holding public consultation sessions in Galapagos to collect comments and opinions on the proposed revision, and to clarify any misunderstandings.

CNH Tours supports responsible travel, and effective management in Galapagos.   The Park Entrance fee will continue to represent a relatively small percentage of the overall cost of a Galapagos vacation. Having lived and worked for conservation in Galapagos for 4 years, CNH Tours has seen how the funds raised by the park entrance fee are put to good use in dealing not only with tourism management, but also in supporting park conservation work, marine reserve management, the control of harmful introduced species, and other useful work.

The overwhelming majority of visitors to Galapagos spend between 7 and 15 nights in the islands.  The $28 increase for this category is the first since 1998, and was warranted.    The average price of a cruise, and of hotels, has increased easily by 75, if not 100% since 1998, whereas this is the first price increase for the park entrance fee.

CNH Tours also notes that the SLG contains many other elements very critical to the long term conservation of Galapagos, including a focus on biosecurity - to keep alien species out, tourism management and others.  It even contains measures to keep Ecuadorian citizens from the continent from freely moving to Galapagos, in an effort to limit population growth there.  These are extraordinary measures requiring a level of political will that is commendable.