QUITO – Tourist arrivals in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands increased 6 percent in 2014 to 215,691, with foreigners accounting for 70 percent, or 149,997, of the visits, Galapagos National Park said.
Visitors from the United States accounted for 26 percent of all tourist arrivals last year, the national park said in a report.
Some 65 percent of visitors stayed in hotels and other lodging in the islands’ towns, with the average stay being five days.
About 35 percent of visitors arrived on special cruises, with their stays averaging seven days.
All the figures were compiled from the transit control cards that visitors to Galapagos National Park must submit to officials.
The Galapagos Islands are located about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) west of the coast of continental Ecuador and were declared a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978.
Some 95 percent of the territory’s 8,000 sq. kilometers (a little over 3,000 sq. miles) constitutes a protected area that is home to more than 50 species of animals and birds found nowhere else on the planet.
The islands were made famous by 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose observations of life on the islands contributed greatly to his theory of the evolution of species.