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Galapagos Tourism Increased 14 Percent in 2018

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 2/1/2019 Mia Taylor
Fur seals at Punta Carola beach, Galapagos islands (Ecuador): PHOTO: Fur seals at Punta Carola beach, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. (photo via AlbertoLoyo/iStock/Getty Images Plus) © Getty Images PHOTO: Fur seals at Punta Carola beach, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. (photo via AlbertoLoyo/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

More than 275,000 travelers visited the Galapagos Islands last year, which represented a 14 percent increase over 2017.

The data was part of a study from the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, which indicated that 275,817 people entered the famed, wildlife-rich archipelago last year, according to a report in Hosteltur.

Of that number, about 182,037 were foreign visitors while about 93,780 were Ecuadorians traveling to the region from the continent.

The lion’s share of Galapagos tourists are from Ecuador, 34 percent, according to the new report. The second biggest market for the Galapagos is the United States, which is responsible for 28 percent of visitors.

The United Kingdom meanwhile accounted for five percent of visitors, followed by Germany ( four percent), Canada and Australia (each at three percent).

One of the most popular sites for tourists visiting the Galapagos is Tortuga Bay, located in Santa Cruz. Another top stop is the Interpretation Center of San Cristóbal, which showcases the history and settlement of the islands, including natural history, human history and conservation.

The Sierra Negra and Chico volcanoes on Isabela Island, which were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, are also popular choices among visitors.

Over the past three decades, tourism in the Galapagos Islands has grown at an annual rate of about 6.71 percent, according to the study.

A volcanic archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos are easily one of the world's top destinations for wildlife-viewing. The islands are home to many plant and animal species found nowhere else.

The growing tourism numbers have also brought increased threats for the unique islands, which were the first-ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the most prevalent challenges the region faces include deforestation, pollution and the introduction of invasive species. Climate change is also a significant issue for the fragile islands.

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