Our philosophy of sustainability
We love Galapagos' pristine ecosystems and fascinating wildlife. Pioneering sustainable tourism is part of our DNA, and the following explains how we are doing our bit for greener travel.
Your trip's CO2 footprint: 100% offset
Did you know that the travel sector is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions? At Galapatours we are proud to be the first Galápagos cruise agency to offset all CO2 emissions (also known as the "carbon footprint") caused by our trips. We offer this service for free on all Galápagos cruises booked from February 2019. The amount of CO2 for each trip will vary, depending on the cruise length, the ship type and on whether flights were included in our offer or not. Typically, a five-day cruise including flights from the mainland to Galápagos and back will emit around 2.2 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. To offset our carbon emissions we have partnered with the German company Arktik to invest in a Gold-Standard certified renewable energy project, the Santa Marta Landfill Gas Capture Project in southern Santiago de Chile. Here, leaking methane (a greenhouse gas that’s more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide!), and biogas are being captured from the waste to generate clean electricity. Around 348,000 tonnes of CO2 are saved each year this way, and it’s a real win-win for everyone involved. We also love the fact that this project is also improving the immediate environment, land and water quality for the 1.2 million people who live within its catchment area.
Does Tourism Help or Hurt the Galápagos Islands?
We love Galápagos' pristine ecosystems and fascinating wildlife. Pioneering sustainable tourism is part of our DNA, and the following explains how we are doing our bit for greener travel.
Every visitor who comes to the Galápagos Islands must pay a $100 National Park Entrance Fee, which alone brings in more than $20 million to help sustain this expansive National Park and Marine Sanctuary - both much needed to protect the Galápagos from international fishing and whaling ships. Plus, the more people visit the Galápagos, the more they can share their stories and the importance of conserving the islands and the ocean as a whole. On the other side, the tourism business does require a big local infrastructure- more people must live in the Galápagos to staff the shops, hotels, and restaurants, which means that more housing must be built, more water systems must be installed, and more trash is generated.
On top of that, since the Galápagos Islands are so isolated, it also means that all products must be imported on large cargo ships and all garbage must be shipped out, which implies more large ship traffic and higher fuel consumption. So, both are true: Tourism does help to protect the islands, but also hurts them.
Sustainable tourism on a cruise ship - is that even possible?
It's important to remember that Galápagos cruise “ships” have little in common with what is widely thought of when you mention a cruise. Most of our ships are actually yachts or catamarans that carry no more than 16 passengers and have a crew of around six. Even our biggest vessels carry only 100 passengers, a mere yacht in comparison to the world's big cruise liners.
Your trip respects Human rights.
Respect for human rights in tourism is a major concern. As an active member of the Roundtable for Human Rights in Tourism for many years, we verify that for all our trips, our partners respect the legal provisions in terms of wages and employment, especially for young people. We also support the "Don't look away" campaign, which aims to protect children in their vacation destinations from sexual abuse and exploitation.
How can you help keep the Galápagos Islands pristine?
You can help keep the Galápagos Islands in their pristine condition by traveling responsibly. Only book your vacation with operators that have made a pledge to practice sustainability, protect the environment, and contribute to the local economy. You should follow the Leave No Trace policy, leaving each site just as it was when you arrived, and are asked not to bring any foodstuffs to Galápagos. The Galápagos Islands National Park has strict rules that you will become familiar with as you explore the Galápagos Islands.
The biggest advice, however, is to always stay with your guide - never go off-trail or beyond the path designated by your guide. Other rules restrict campfires, littering, and fishing, and no visitor is allowed to introduce any foreign organic matter or take any natural item from the Galápagos Islands.
Tourcert - sustainability certification
As a sustainable tour operator we are certified by Tourcert and undergo a detailed audit of all business areas every 2 years. TourCert GmbH is a non-profit organization for certification in tourism and has set itself the task of promoting ecological, social and economic corporate responsibility in tourism.
Member of the association "Forum Anders Reisen"
The Forum Anders Reisen e.V. (web page in German) is an association of travel companies that are committed to sustainable tourism. The travel experiences offered by their members are oriented towards people and environment, use local resources carefully and purposefully, and treat foreign cultures with respect. The Forum Anders Reisen was founded in 1998 and has around 130 members.