Lindblad Expeditions and Island Conservation have launched the Galápagos Island Relief Fund to provide immediate financial relief for the people of the Galápagos Islands, who have been devastated by the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism accounts for more than 80% of the Galápagos economy, so in March, when travel restrictions suddenly halted the tourism industry, it caused profound hardship for families, businesses, and the community at large.
In the first two months of the pandemic alone, the islands’ economy lost $50 million, almost a quarter of the annual income; and the Galápagos Chamber of Tourism recently reported that visitors between July and October dropped a staggering 95%.
The economic devastation also poses a serious threat to the conservation of the pristine archipelago.
Donations received by the Galápagos Island Relief Fund will enable Fundación Un Cambio Por La Vida (FUNCAVID), a local non-profit organization, to disseminate micro-loans to the people of the Galápagos.
The money will provide immediate financial relief, address the basic needs of vulnerable families, allow children to stay in school, and help sustainable businesses survive, grow, and begin developing new income sources.
These lines of credit will support hundreds of community enterprises and initiatives in the areas of local entrepreneurship and strengthening existing businesses, sustainable food production for food security, emergency aid for vulnerable families to meet basic living costs, and education.
And it will also enable the community to continue its journey of protecting the unique ecosystems and wildlife of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sven Lindblad, founder and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, said of the initiative: “The people of Galápagos are struggling more than I’ve seen in my 53-year relationship with the Islands. Stimulating the local economy through community micro-loans has the power to activate a thriving system — helping entrepreneurs and small business owners develop new ideas to complement sustainable tourism, and meeting the needs of the local community long after the pandemic is over.”
The goal is to secure US$500,000.
The main fundraising mechanism will be an outreach to Lindblad guests who have travelled with them to Galápagos.
The small ship cruise line has also set up a matching program, where every $1 donated to the Galápagos Island Relief Fund (up to $50,000) will be matched 3:1 by an equivalent dollar-for-dollar donation from each: Sven and Kristin Lindblad’s Wanderlust Fund, Lindblad Expeditions and the Lindblad Expeditions Board of Directors.
Karl Campbell, Island Conservation’s executive director of Latin America, explained: “The Galápagos Island Relief Fund will enable Galápagos community members to further their education, create new businesses, and increase local food security — steps that are essential to building a more sustainable way of life on the islands, in which people and wildlife can thrive,”
Every dollar raised (100% of funds donated) will stay in the Galápagos.
Those interested in supporting the Galápagos Island Relief Fund can go to https://www.islandconservation.org/galapagos-island-relief-fund/ to do so.