QUITO – Ecuadorian Tourism Minister Enrique Ponce de Leon said in an interview with EFE that the level of both local and foreign tourism to the Galapagos Islands should be raised.
“We all call them the ‘crown jewels,’ but let’s be real: I don’t think we’re treating them as such,” the minister said, adding that what tourists leave at the islands in terms of expenditures should fit the destination, which means that the level of tourism should be raised to turn the archipelago into a “real tourist anchor.”
The islands are considered to represent one of the “four worlds” the country has to offer – in addition to coastlines, mountain ranges and the Amazon – as per official tourism advertisements, and Ponce de Leon said he thinks that airlines should also be including more flights to the area.
Although some may consider it expensive for a middle-class tourist to visit the islands, the minister said that, in his opinion, a product seems costly only if one does not get what one pays for, which is the reason he thinks the average cost should be raised, since the archipelago is much more exclusive than other tourist destinations.
“I believe that, to those wishing to have a Galapagos experience, it should mean leaving more (money) here,” the tourism minister said. “It deserves very special care and is like no other place in the world.”
The Galapagos Islands are located about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) west of the coast of continental Ecuador and were declared a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978.
Some 95 percent of the territory’s 8,000 sq. kilometers (a little over 3,000 sq. miles) constitutes a protected area that is home to more than 50 species of animals and birds found nowhere else on the planet.
The islands were made famous by 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose observations of life on the islands contributed greatly to his theory of the evolution of species.