CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Monday October 19, 2020
Snapshot: What's occupying the minds of Galapagos residents these days
An old friend of mine in San Diego forwarded an article from the LA Times to me yesterday. It's a good one, effectively illustrating the zeitgeist of Galapagos these days - as far as I can tell from what I'm hearing from friends and associates there.
The article from the LA Times covers the massive industrial Chinese fishing fleet cloud that hung over the islands for many weeks in the summer - which added to the overall feeling of creeping discouragement brought about by COVID-19's moth-balling of the tourism economy there.
It also contains 2 short but well done video clips narrated by a good old friend of ours, Fernando Ortiz (also an excellent naturalist guide). It refers to another old friend, Fiddi Angermeyer (son of a German pioneer who, with 3 of his brothers, sailed from Germany to Galapagos before WWII), and Norman Wray, the presidentially appointed provincial governor, with whom I've had the chance to speak with on a couple of occasions.
Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island): The main economic hub of Galapagos
While tourism destinations are all suffering tremendously during COVID, Galapagos is suffering even more because the economy there is overwhelmingly dependent on dollars flowing in from tourists. Take that away, and you're left with a few NGOs, government services (all being cut back because Ecuador has a huge cash flow problem these days) and relatively small scale fishing and farming.
Almost all goods purchased in Galapagos are imported from outside. This means that every time someone buys a roll of toilet paper, a bottle of water, a pair of sandals, a t-shirt, rice, beans... money is leaving the islands and it's not being replenished by dollars coming in from tourism.
The Galapagos economy is drying up.
I know of several people that have left. While economic conditions on the continent are not good at all, they are better than in the islands.
What's in store in the months ahead? Nobody knows. But until COVID-19 can be tamed, things will remain delicate. The service providers we are in touch with are rearing to get going again of course. They've worked hard at adopting COVID-19 safety protocols, be it on land or on ships. Tourism is open - you CAN go to Galapagos - but as can be expected, there are hoops through which travelers must pass (COVID testing) and options will be fewer as not all businesses are operating at full capacity.
At CNH Tours, we continue to receive inquiries (though fewer than before!) from people who are very keen to organize their trip to the islands as soon as conditions improve. Galapagos is a premiere nature tourism destinations of the world - it was the first place to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site (1978). It will remain a "trip of a lifetime" place to visit well after COVID-19 becomes a distant memory.
For the Los Angeles Times article, click here.