Recently, the Galapagos National Park and Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism have actively changed the standard tourism model in Galapagos from cruise-based to hotel-based. For many years, no new cruise boat permits have been issued, thereby limiting the number of boats and the number of guests given access to our sensitive protected visitor sites. Instead, so that growth can continue while the environment remains protected, new hotel permits have been issued. Now, tourists can come to Galapagos and see the archipelago from a whole new land-based perspective.
In this newer model, Galapagos guests stay at the hotels on the islands and travel each day to destinations of their choice, working with hotel owners and travel agencies who plan these day trips based on the stated desires of the guests themselves.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this new model is its impact on the local Galapagos economy. While nearly all of the cruise ships are owned by outsiders from other countries or the mainland of Ecuador, nearly all of the hotels are owned by Galapagueños. This allows visitors who stay in boutique hotels such as Galapagos Eco Friendly to have a profound positive impact on the local economy, fulfilling one of the linchpins of responsible tourism as advocated by The International Ecotourism Society.