ECUADOR MORE COMMITTED THAN EVER TO PRESERVING THE NATURAL AND CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Ministry of Tourism Outlines Measures Aimed at Protecting Galapagos’ Natural and Cultural Heritage
QUITO, Ecuador – July 04th, 2007 – Following the recent addition of the Galapagos Islands to the list of World Heritage Sites endangered by the UNESCO, Ecuador has reinforced its commitment to protecting the islands and has outlined some of the different initiatives that it has been undertaking jointly with national and international entities in order to preserve the Galapagos’ natural and cultural heritage.
All tourism activity is being carried out normally in the islands and in accordance with the current regulations that prioritize the conservation of the archipelago’s eco-system. Tourism is one of the most strictly controlled activities in the Galapagos Islands .
“The inscription of the Galapagos Islands on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger provides an opportunity to garner national and international support for the Islands ‘ conservation,” said Maria Isabel Salvador, Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism.
Maria Isabel Salvador also assured that the Ecuadorian government, led by President Rafael Correa, is well aware of the threats faced by the Galapagos Islands which led the government to declare the archipelago “in risk and of national priority for the conservation and environmental management” of its unique ecosystem in April of this year.
Numerous government ministries and organizations have been working to implement measures aimed at protecting the Galapagos Islands from all activities that are deemed non-sustainable. Now Ecuador will also have the opportunity to mobilize international support for the Islands ‘ conservation.
Ecuador has become one of the world leaders in sustainable tourism development. The Ministry of Tourism is currently developing PLANDETUR 2020, a master plan that will set guidelines regulating the tourism activity in all of Ecuador in order to guarantee a sustainable development of the tourism industry in the country, aimed at preserving its numerous natural wonders, historic wealth as well as the cultural heritage of its native populations. Ecuador has also joined forces with the Rainforest Alliance and the Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance with the goal of preserving Ecuador ‘s natural and cultural assets.
Some of the more specific initiatives that the Ministry of Tourism is working on include:
– New technical norms affecting tourism operations in the Galapagos that will come into effect at the end of 2007. These new norms will regulate every activity from island tours to diving, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, and fishing.
– Coordination of actions with the Ministry of the Environment aimed at effectively controlling tourism activity in the Galapagos.
– Reforming regulation controlling the work of tour and nature guides in order to ensure stricter controls of their activities.
The Ministry of Tourism is also working on “Turismo para todos” (Tourism for All), a training program for micro businesses within the tourism sector in order to help them develop their operations in a sustainable manner.
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