Tourism to Galapagos fell 73% during 2020

This has hit the population hard, which depends almost entirely on the tourism industry.

The reactivation began in August with less than 1,000 tourists.

February 5, 2021, 03:32 p. m.

Tourism to the Galapagos Islands fell 73% during 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; this has hit its population hard, which depends almost entirely on the hotel, restaurant and excursion sector.

“In 2020 around 72,519 tourists arrived in the Islands, a figure that denotes a 73% decline in national and international visitors,” says a statement from the Ministry of the Environment. A year earlier, 271,238 tourists who had passed through the exclusive islands, a World Heritage Site since 1978.

The pandemic shook the islands, located about 1,000 kilometers from the continental coasts of Ecuador, at a time of growth, with increases in January and February 2020 of 9% and 7% respectively.

“But the projections fell in March due to the global health crisis,” according to the 2020 Annual Report of Visitors to the Protected Areas of Galapagos.

Protected by their natural environment and with access limitations to avoid damaging the environment, 57% of the tourists who visited Galapagos last year were foreigners, from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland and the Netherlands; while the remaining 43% were of national origin.

The vast majority were on the islands in the first two and a half months, and since the pandemic began, the flow was almost completely reduced at the beginning [of the year]; in the second half of the year it remained slightly above 10% of its usual quota, as per semi-annual calculations.

“The greatest impact on the reduction of visits occurred in the second and third quarters of 2020. In March, income fell to less than 57%, compared to the same month in 2019. Between April and July, there were no tourists, by the state of exception [and closure to tourism],” adds the press release.

The reactivation began in August with less than 1,000 tourists and a gradual growth in the following months: 1,000 (September), 3,000 (October), 4,000 (November) and 6,000 (December).

Galapagos is the only site in Ecuador that requires PCR testing on domestic flights, in order to prevent the spread of the pandemic. Therefore, in accordance with the reactivation of tourism, the environmental authority has established general protocols for biosafety and access to protected areas.

Read the coverage from EFE via El Tiempo at

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021

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