New strict entry requirements? Yes... No...Maybe...

In El Comercio today (an Ecuadorian national newspaper), Lorena Tapia, the president of the Galapagos Governing Council answers question on the confusion that reigns over the application of new entry requirements to Galapagos.    Based on the content, it appears that the requirements for proof of hotel accommodations or cruise ship reservation, along with proof of medical coverage are still being discussed with no clear date for their application.   I would hazard a guess that these might be a long time coming - as the logistics for making these operational / effective will require a significant investment in monitoring tools, and it appears that the Galapagos tourism sector is keen on ensuring that the measures will not be overly disruptive.    

The following are excerpts from that interview, translated into English with the help of Google along with some additional editing for clarity. 

Q: A regulation, in force since the beginning of this year, establishes five requirements to enter the islands.   It is currently under discussion in the Council of the Government of the archipelago. The measures were suspended, but they will be applied next year. What are these requirements?

A:  That the tourist must have a transit control card, a round trip ticket, health insurance (for foreigners), have a reservation for a cruise or for lodging or have the invitation of a permanent or temporary resident of Galapagos.

Q:  Why weren’t these measures been applied when they became official?

A:  When I took over my position earlier this year there were complaints from some sectors, such as tourism.  They told us that there had been no prior information on the measures and that the Galapagos Government Council would better develop some type of on-line tool so as not to have a collapse in the entrance of tourists.

Q:  What did the Council do?

A:  We took those concerns into account and temporarily suspended the requirements, giving us a bit of time to establish a roadmap and new timelines. Several meetings took place.

Q: What kind of changes have been considered?

A: They are more operational type. The requirement for a transit control card will be applied (note from editor: This is in force – you cannot enter Galapagos without a transit control card). The insurance requirement was already contemplated by the regulations, but the Council decided that there must be alternatives to applying it.  An emergency medical coverage system for Galapagos is being contemplated for the medium and long term. 

Q: And about the proof of a hotel reservation, what kind of changes are proposed?

A: They (note for editor: Not clear who “they” refers to) asked us to think about some penalty when tourists leave a place after having booked it. We are looking at establishments that have a reservation system to ensure that the document that grants entry into Galapagos can be verified.

Q: What was the main concern of the tourism sector?

A:  They were concerned over the issue of an effective technological tool from the government side -  this plan must come with improvement from the government side as well.

Q:  Would Galapagos benefit from the national “Tourism Package” initiative, which it seeks to promote travel in the country?

A:  The Ministry of Tourism is clear about the type of visits that the Galapagos needs. That is to say, an ecotourism where the pressure of the travelers does not generate an environmental impact that endangers the archipelago. The measure is welcome as long as the vision of the islands is not affected.

This content has been originally published in Spanish by Diario EL COMERCIO.  The original article can be consulted here.