Travel Restrictions to Galapagos Islands

Travelers with their sights set on the Galapagos Islands might find it a bit more difficult to visit. Ecuador will begin limiting the number of visitors to the Islands by putting into place new rules and regulations regarding cruise routes.

In order to protect the islands, guests can only stay a maximum of four days and five nights, and there can only be four ship landings in any 14-day period. Annually the archipelago receives 150,000 visitors.

Tour operators have until February 1, 2012, to start incorporating the new regulations, which are designed to protect the local animal and plant life.

Typically, three islands handled the majority of tourists, but the Galapagos National Park has opened up the other islands to redistribute visitors. The new routes will reduce fuel consumption and pollution.

Galapagos isn’t the first destination to limit visitors. Countries with ties to Antarctica agreed on restrictions so that only 100 passengers are allowed on shore at any given time. Ships with more than 500 people on board aren’t even allowed to land in Antarctic waters.

Action was needed for Antarctica because the increased amount of visitors. The BBC reported that in 1992-93 there were 6,700 visitors from cruise ships, but in 2008, there were 45,000 visitors.

In 2009, the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, restricted the amount of visitors after complaints of overcrowding. The museum has the largest collection of Chinese art, so it was drawing increasing numbers of Chinese tourists.