In a bid to better protect the ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands, Galapagos National Park will implement new landing regulations, effective in February.

The new rules will prohibit any tourist vessel from visiting the same island site more than one time in a 14-day period. Currently, vessels can visit the same site once every seven days.

The changes will affect how tour operators plan their itineraries, according to Todd Smith, founder and president of AdventureSmith Explorations, which markets about 80% of the small ships cruising in the Galapagos.

“They have had to change itineraries, staff has had to adapt and learn new regions, cost structures are altered due to increased/decreased fuel, new brochures need to be printed, previously booked clients need to be informed, etc.,” said Smith.

The impact on travelers is more subtle, he added.

“Travelers can no longer assume that a weeklong cruise will include all the highlights the Galapagos has to offer. We advise travelers to consider a 10- to 11-day cruise, if they want to be certain to visit a diverse sampling of islands and species that make the Galapagos famous.”

Travelers, said Smith, should “carefully scrutinize itineraries to be sure the trip they select provides the experiences they are seeking.”

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, located in the Pacific some 550 miles off Ecuador’s coast.

By Donna Tunney

For more tourism information about the Galapagos Islands www.visitecuador.com.ec