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Overview of tourism management in Galapagos Island

The report gives an overview of tourism management in Galapagos Island. The report begins with a definition of sustainable tourism and goes on to explain responsible tourism which in recent years have become more effective than sustainable tourism. The report specifically discusses about the issues like endangered species in the Galapagos Island challenges sustainable tourism. There is also discussion on whether the issue chosen is a global or regional issue explained with justifications. The report also illustrates maps and pictures of the place in trying to explain the issue. The dealing of the issue by the stakeholders and the government also finds a mention in the report. The report also gives a picture of Kenya effectively dealing with a similar issue and what might be able to be learnt from the good practice adopted by the country.

Sustainable tourism in the context of Galapagos Island refers to the concept of visiting the place as tourist and thereby making only positive impacts to the environments, economy and society. The key aspect of sustainable tourism lies in respecting the people for whom the location is home, their customs and culture and socioeconomic system (Epler Wood 2016). Thus, sustainable tourism helps in establishing a balance amongst the environmental, economic and socio cultural aspects for tourism development that also contributes to conserving. Through sustainable tourism, the impact on the environment and local culture minimized for making it available to the future generations. Sustainability in tourism also helps in generating employment, income and conservation of locally existing ecosystems.

In recent times, responsible tourism is a concept that has become more effective than sustainable tourism although both the concepts have similar goals. This has led to the belief in the fact that sustainable tourism is not enough. Thus, the concept of responsible tourism relates to consciousness and actions of the traveler (Goodwin 2011). This focuses on the efforts that traveler should undertake for conserving and protecting the destination without stepping in natural, local and cultural ecosystems. In the context of the mentioned destination, responsible tourism refers to making the place better for people to live in and for the people who visits the place. The concept refers to using tourism more willing than used by it (Chhabra 2012). The concept also helps in identification of the locally significant issues and taking necessary action for dealing with them.

Therefore, one can say that the concept of responsibility is free and one can take it as per the handling capacity (Leslie 2012.). There are others, who can undermine such efforts. This is when the role of regulation and government come into play. This is necessary because those carrying on with exploiting the environment and public realm should not undermine the efforts of the business that operates responsibly and sustainably.

Definition of sustainable tourism and responsible tourism

The flora and fauna of Galapagos Island that includes the giant tortoises, the brightly colored land iguanas, high foot penguins, flightess cormorants and amazingly complex Scalesia plants are the dominant attraction for the visitors of the place (Galapagos.org 2017). However, among all the animals, giant tortoises were the unique fauna that existed in the Island. The giant tortoises of Galapagos now represent the remaining two tortoise groups in the entire world. However, over the past 200 years, invasive species and hunting have led to a reduction of the tortoise population by 90 percent (Konicaminolta.com 2017). The adaptation of the giant tortoise without water and food was also an unfortunate cause of its demise. Moreover, there was massive exploitation of the giant tortoises for their oil that resulted in loss of 100,000 to 200,000 species of tortoises (Our Endangered World 2017). Presently, the estimated number of tortoises in the island was 20,000–25,000 species that is actually a major regional concern that will have an impact globally thereby disturbing the ecological balance of the place.

The gradual extinction of the Giant tortoises is a major issue for Galapagos Island since it is the major attraction for driving tourism to the Island (ThoughtCo 2017). Moreover, such extinction also leads to imbalance of the ecosystems.

The loss of tourism due to the extinction of Giant tortoises in the Galapagos Island will lead to loss of income. This income could be for betterment of the local communities, improvement of infrastructure also becomes stagnant and funding for conservation efforts becomes redundant.

 The process of extinction is however natural and is in process ever since the existence of human beings. Development of new species takes place at the same rate as the process of extinction. Nowadays, due to water and air pollution, clearing of forest, wetland loss, man-induced changes of the environment, exploitation and intrusion of other species, the rate of extinction is exceeding the rate of speciation. The issue of extinction is a major concern that not only diminishes the complexity and diversity of life on the earth. The loss of the giant tortoise will also result in repercussion in the environment of Galapagos Island since all life existing on earth is interconnected (Galapagos.org 2017). Failing of the ecosystem can lead to imbalance in the nature thereby jeopardizing survival of life. Moreover, the complete loss of species also deprives human being of its benefits forever.

The maps and pictures illustrating the discussion are as follows

Issues related to the diminishing population of giant tortoise

Figure: Maps of Galapagos Island

Source: (Galapagos.org. 2017).

Figure: Giant Tortoise of Galapagos Island

Source: (ThoughtCo. 2017)

Figure: Endangered Giant Tortoise in Galapagos Island

Source: (Our Endangered World 2017).

The issue of extinction of a species like giant turtle not only leads to imbalance of the ecology but also causes lesser drive in tourism (White 2013). Therefore, for rectifying the situation the Island, the destination management organizations has undertaken measures for protecting the endangered species. In addition to this, there has been a measure for awareness creation, complete ban on hunting and other means of exploitation that is responsible for the extinction of giant species (Barker 2013). Thus, there have been major efforts for restoring and protecting the endangered species by the various organizations of the Galapagos Island. In this regard, the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) and Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) since its establishment are making efforts for protecting and enhancing the populations of the endangered species of the giant turtles. These authorities also made sure that there is usage of protective fencing for excluding the goats and enabling smaller areas of native vegetation to flourish. The authorities therefore enable rearing, breeding and repatriation of the giant tortoises and pest protection of the wild pigs.

In Galapagos, various programs related to protection of species have been ongoing for decades (Galapagos.org. 2017). However, the GNPD and its collaborators are now trying to focus on the conservation of the Giant turtles for the need of restoration of the ecosystem. Therefore, their programs dealt with a focus on the entire island. This made the organization focus on a project known as Project Isabela that dealt primarily with the eradication of the goats, pigs and donkeys on Santiago and Isabela (Our Endangered World 2017). The other islands that were part of the ecosystem restoration projects included Santa Fe, Pinta, Floreana, Pinzon and Espanola. These projects primarily focused on the habitat restoration and restoration of the missing species.

Therefore, there were various methods adopted for the restoration of the Giant tortoise species. Thus, for restoration of these giant tortoises, team of scientist, veterinarians and scientist divided themselves in groups whose daily mission was patrolling the large areas of lava fields and the thick vegetation of the Galapagos in search of any species. By undertaking this method, the team could rescue more than 1300 tortoises (Fondationensemble.org 2017). Out of which few airlifted shifted to the Galapagos National Park located in the island of Santa Cruz.

Global or regional issue

The government must show interest in the conserving the Giant tortoise of the Galapagos Island as they will help maintain the ecological balance of the island (Aguilera, Málaga, and Gibbs 2013). Moreover, the giant tortoise being the major attraction of the Galapagos will also drive in tourism that help in accumulation of funds that can be used for the development of the various aspects of the Island. Through assistance from the government, the endangered species of the giant tortoise will have better chances of survival (Márquez et. al 2013). Thus, the government can provide assistance in the various programs undertaken the destination authorities for rescuing the Giant tortoise. The government should implement strict restrictions on any kind of exploitation on the endangered species. More laws should be in place along with adequate punishment issued for the violation of the law in causing harm to the endangered species.  

In this respect one can draw the example of a real world situation of Kenya and how it protects its endangered species. The crime scenario in Kenya is on the rise which has led to fall in wildlife. This has also encouraged the Kenya Wildlife Service to step up and take necessary steps (Karani and Bichanga 2012). The international trade for endangered species is one of the primary reasons for species becoming extinct and disturbing the ecological balance. The animals are not only traded for their meat but also used as herbal remedies. Thus, in order to prevent this extinction and creating an ecological imbalance the Kenyan Wildlife Service makes used of all traditional tools of enforcement for patrolling the conservation areas of wildlife, severely penalize wildlife criminals and also stop illegal hunting. Presently, the service also adopted certain new technologies like the DNA forensic analysis. Moreover, the Kenyan Wildlife Service launched a Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System (WEMS) for tracking regional trans-boundary poachers (Dinerstein et.al 2013). The service has also increased penalties, increased protection in the fields, strengthened enforcements and raised awareness in public.

However, one can learn from the good practices adopted by Kenya in adopting measures for protection of its endangered species. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ensures providing technical support and training on habitat assessments, translocation and strategy planning, wildlife health initiatives and management of population (Nurse 2015.). They have also improved their enforcement law and effectiveness in ecological monitoring through the use of newer technologies. The service also effectively handles illegal wildlife trade through a holistic approach.

Dealing with the issue by stakeholders and government

The giant tortoise in Galapagos Island is also facing extinction not only due illegal activities but also exploitation. Though there are various conservation means ensured by the development authorities for rescuing the tortoises but they differ somewhat to that of Kenya. This has to be understood that the difference is due to difference in various aspects of both the places (Poulakakis et.al 2012). These aspects include governance, culture, power and wealth. The Galapagos Island however through the establishment of the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park ensures the launch of a systematic review on the present status of the tortoise populations.

Conclusion

The report ends with the analysis of the situation of Galapagos in the light of measures adopted by Kenya. There is also a discussion on the good practices adopted by Kenya in protecting its endangered wildlife. The report discusses about the role of the government in dealing with the issue of endangered species in the Galapagos Island and also gives a picture about how Kenya deals with the issue. The report also puts forward about how the issue handled by the various stakeholders along with maps and illustrations. The reasons for choosing the particular issue of Galapagos Island are chosen along with proper justifications. The report also mentions whether the issue of endangered species in the Galapagos Island is a global or a regional issue. Further, the report also speaks about responsible tourism and in the light of which sustainable tourism is not enough. One can also find the definition of sustainable tourism in the report.

References

Aguilera, W.T., Málaga, J. and Gibbs, J.P., 2013. Giant tortoises hatch on Galapagos island. strategies, 497, pp.306-308.

Barker, R., 2013. Saving all the parts: reconciling economics and the Endangered Species Act. Island Press.

Chhabra, D., 2012. Taking responsibility for tourism.

Dinerstein, E., Varma, K., Wikramanayake, E., Powell, G., Lumpkin, S., Naidoo, R., Korchinsky, M., Del Valle, C., Lohani, S., Seidensticker, J. and Joldersma, D., 2013. Enhancing conservation, ecosystem services, and local livelihoods through a wildlife premium mechanism. Conservation Biology, 27(1), pp.14-23.

Epler Wood, M., 2016. Sustainable tourism on a finite planet, environmental, business and policy solutions.

Fondationensemble.org. 2017. Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative: Restoring Galapagos tortoise populations and the Island ecosystems that depend on them. [online] Available at: https://www.fondationensemble.org/en/projet/giant-tortoise-restoration-initiative-restoring-galapagos-tortoise-populations-and-the-island-ecosystems-that-depend-on-them/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2017].

Goodwin, H., 2011. Taking responsibility for tourism. Woodeaton: Goodfellow Publishers Limited.

Karani, S.R. and Bichanga, W.O., 2012. Effects of Total Quality Management implementation on business performance in service institutions: A case of Kenya Wildlife Services. International Journal of Research Studies in Management, 1(1), pp.59-76.

Konicaminolta.com.2017. Galapagos Giant Tortoise-Endangered animals list-Our endangered animals | KONICA MINOLTA. [online] Available at: https://www.konicaminolta.com/kids/endangered_animals/library/field/galapagos-giant-tortoise.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2017].

Leslie, D. ed., 2012. Responsible tourism: Concepts, theory and practice. CABI.

Márquez, C., Gibbs, J.P., Carrión, V., Naranjo, S. and Llerena, A., 2013. Population response of giant Galapagos tortoises to feral goat removal. Restoration ecology, 21(2), pp.181-185.

Nurse, A., 2015. Policing wildlife: perspectives on the enforcement of wildlife legislation. Springer.

Our Endangered World. 2017. Galapagos Giant Tortoise - Our Endangered World. [online] Available at: https://www.ourendangeredworld.com/species/reptiles/galapagos-giant-tortoise/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2017].

Poulakakis, N., Russello, M., Geist, D. and Caccone, A., 2012. Unravelling the peculiarities of island life: vicariance, dispersal and the diversification of the extinct and extant giant Galápagos tortoises. Molecular ecology, 21(1), pp.160-173

ThoughtCo. 2017. Why Animals Become Endangered. [online] Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/how-species-become-endangered-1181928 [Accessed 18 Nov. 2017].

White, R. ed., 2013. Global environmental harm: Criminological perspectives. Routledge.

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