Tourism returns to pre-pandemic levels in the Galapagos; North America sends the most visitors

Jan 13, 2023 | 1 comment

Tourism rebounded in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands in 2022, with a total of 267,688 visitors, close to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, the Galapagos National Park said Tuesday.

The park, which manages the islands, posted the figure on its Twitter account, saying that the number shows the arrival of tourists in the archipelago is just one percent away from reaching the figures recorded in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.

More than 70% of the workforce in the Galapagos depend on tourism, the government says.

In 2019, the islands located in the Pacific Ocean received 271,000 visitors, but that figure plunged to 73,000 at the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

In 2021, 136,000 tourists visited the islands, a figure that almost doubled in 2022, with 54 percent being foreigners (145,445) and 46 percent, nationals (122,243), according to park officials.

Located about 1,000 km from continental Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

According to Ecuador tourism officials, two-thirds of visitors to the islands and foreigners with most of those coming from the U.S. and Canada. Europeans are the next largest group of visitors, with the most coming from Great Britain, Germany, Spain and France.

National Park researchers say the lull in tourism resulting from the pandemic helped some Galapagos ecosystem to regenerate and are suggesting the number of tourists allowed in the islands be reduced. Tourist interests, however, reject the idea and are pushing to raise the limit.