People have been traveling to the Galapagos Islands for hundreds of years; especially since Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking work opened the door to much of the world after his 1835 voyage.
For a long while, tourist traffic through the islands was of little consequence, but that could not last indefinitely as the world discovered the wonders to be found there.
The New York Times recently published Adam Popescu’s article, Going to the Galápagos Is Easier and Cheaper Than Ever. That Might Not Be a Good Thing. Popescu points out that in “2017, 241,800 people visited the islands, according to the Observatorio de Turismo de Galápagos, up from 173,419 a decade earlier.”
Demand is outstripping the supply, which was always going to happen. The islands have become little more than a commodity.
“You should never have to put the islands on sale,” states Ashish Sanghrajka, President of Big Five. “That is the single biggest issue. Look at the Antarctica. It doesn’t go on sale because it doesn’t to. Like the Galapagos, it is unique.”
Yet, over the last decades, that is what has occurred as key elements have affected the islands, including the growing numbers of accommodations are setting up house, offering bargain basement pricing. Add that to the continued explosion in the number of both visitors and residents, and the problems escalate.
We saw a chance to help in 2007, when we joined other corporate sponsors, including Coca Cola and Kraft Foods, to support the first recycling center in the islands to deal with the growing tons of trash being discarded from ships and other sources.
By 2013, Big Five determined that we had to do more to help Galapagos survive so we took the next step – to completely change our product in Ecuador. Going back to the drawing board, we decided to take a fresh look at the rest of Ecuador… beyond the islands. And we discovered a vibrant traditional culture in the interior of mainland Ecuador that was being completely overlooked by tourism. One of our Destination Specialists, a native of Ecuador and former guide, was instrumental in helping us with her intimate knowledge of her homeland.
Just remember, when it comes to discounting, for every 10% discount, it takes five years to earn that back