Everytime I meet a new participant going to the Galapagos, I ask the purpose of their trip, and 99% of the time I get the same answer: " I've always wanted to go to the Galapagos and I figured this would be the way to do it by leaving some volunteer behind"
There are many reasons why Galapagos is so important and known worldwide, Darwin's theory, all the wildlife, the uniqueness of the Islands and about a thousand more like that. Not everybody however, is aware of all the problems the Islands are facing and how a tourist could make a difference by choosing the most efficient way of visiting the Enchanted Islands,
When visiting San Cristobal myself a few weeks ago, I was shocked when I walked into the Interpretation center and I saw a chart of how the tourism revenue is distributed in the less efficient way of visiting the Galapagos, it goes something like this:
64%: Stays outside the country prior to arrival
30%: Goes to cruises
6%: Stays with the local community
My first reaction to this chart was: ONLY 6% stays with the local community???... is worth to clear that this is the less efficient way of travelling, I followed this number and talked to our friend Chriss James who has lived in Ecuador for several years now an is an specialist in Galapagos, after our conversation I learned that if we added all sorts of revenues of ALL the tourism entering the Islands, then it adds up to an aproximate of 20% of the total revenue stays in the local Community, is still not enough considering how much money tourists invest on their trips, therefore this can just mean that the less efficient kind of tourism is still dominating the way that people travel to the Islands,
That is why is so important is the work that we do as Lead Adventures:
First we are a local Ecuadorian company based in Quito, and we support the local community, when our participants arrive to Galapagos, they are received by local guides and they stay in local hotels and they eat at restaurants in town. With our Galapagos experience 75% of the revenue stays in the Islands and 100% stays in Ecuador.
Leaving the economics aside, this particular program combines volunteer and travel: when our participants go to the Islands, they get their hands on flora conservation efforts, by helping the erradication of the blackberry which was introduced years ago and now is endangering tons of endemic species.
Is very grateful to know that we are bringing to the country and the Galapagos, not just tourists, but responsible travelers that are actually leaving an ecological footprint and helping to preserve and save the Islands for future generations, it really makes me want to invite everybody to do this, since besides helping you get to enjoy a great time sharing with the locals, and planning your own activities, (you don't have to stick to cruise schedules), it really makes you visit the Galapagos in a way that just a few can, think about it!