August 2, 2015
A downward trend in tourists trying to take Galapagos sand, coral, stones and shells out of the Islands has been recorded by the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) for 2015 to date, in conjunction with the airport authority and the National Police.
In 2013, 377 packages were stopped by baggage and cargo controls at the local airports, both manually and with the help of scanners. In 2014, the figure dropped by 20% in the detection of 304 packages. In the first six months of 2015, rangers have only detected 101 packages so far.
Although this figure is encouraging, Danny Rueda, Director of Ecosystems for the GNPD, mentioned seasonal peaks that affect the variation of the number of items detected — which increase during periods of higher volume from domestic tourists.
To counter the problem, the Environmental Authority has conducted educational campaigns that have been spread regularly so that tourists know that it is not allowed to take these materials out of the archipelago. Galapagos hosts more than 200,000 visitors annually, and if each person removes sand or coral from the Islands it would ultimately affect the balance of the ecosystem.
Rueda highlighted the help received from the GNPD naturalist guides and tourism operators, who make a point to inform tourists about the ban on transporting these items. The best souvenirs that visitors can take from the archipelago are photographs and film taken at the various visitor sites.
Read the original coverage from the Galapagos Conservancy at https://www.galapagos.org/newsroom/2015-tourist-natural-souvenirs/
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