Through Planeterra’s partnership and connecting Floreana Ecotours to tourism industry partners, tourism activity has increased on the island, allowing them to receive a greater number of passengers who can participate in different activities and services provided by members of the community such as food, lodging, kayaking, trekking, and more. This increase allows the residents of Floreana Island to have more employment opportunities, especially the younger people on the island. This partnership has increased their income and has improved their household conditions. Further, through their increased income and empowerment through our partnerships, it has enabled the community to be able to protect the unique biodiversity of the island.
Tourism is the main economic activity in the Galapagos, dating back to the early 1970s when local communities offered tours around the islands on their personal fishing boats. Over the past three decades, the number of visitors has increased to well over 100,000 tourists each year and is now at a critical point. Specifically, one of the islands in the archipelago, Floreana Island, experienced a sharp increase in short day tours but the residents were not seeing the benefit of this growth.
With few job opportunities from this added tourism, the community’s youth had been choosing to leave the island to study and they rarely returned. Investing in training and infrastructure in the Galapagos’ first community-based tourism program benefits both the island’s young entrepreneurs and its unique wildlife, preserving Floreana for future travellers and islanders alike.
Planeterra invested in a large scale training program to enable residents of Floreana Island to manage all aspects of tourism on their island. The community-owned-and-managed association coordinates tourism activities such as guiding, trekking, kayaking and snorkeling; improving food services; developing business and hospitality management skills including accounting, and reservations.
The goal is to provide job opportunities for the island’s 150 residents to benefit from the booming tourism industry. By controlling the number of arrivals to the island, and improving the experience with an overnight stay, Floreana can maintain its pristine habitat, clean waters, and natural heritage.