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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ecuador introduces entry cards to protect Galapagos Islands

People's Daily Online, October 23, 2007

Ecuador began issuing a special entry card to the Galapagos Islands on Monday in a bid to protect the endangered world heritage site.

The 10-dollar migration control card (TCM) seeks to control tourists to the archipelago as visitors must state their status whether as tourists or workers to avoid permanent stay in the 19 islands in the Pacific Ocean, 950 km west of Ecuador.

The Galapagos was the first site to have been placed on the World Heritage List for its unique flora and fauna in 1978.

The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) put it on the List of World Heritage in Danger in June, citing the fact that the islands' existence is increasingly endangered by invading species, growing tourism and immigration.

The "Galapagos National Institute (Ingala) will issue the migration card, which will be handed out directly or through travel agencies, airlines and tourism operators," Ingala's director Schunbert Lombeida told the press.

There are three categories of the card, a 90-day stay for tourists, for workers that expires when the labor contract expires and for natives, Lombeida said.

Earlier this year, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced that the Galapagos islands are at risk and the archipelago's conservation and environment management as an issue of national priority.

With the introduction of the control card, some 3,500 people must abandon the islands, since the Galapagos archipelago only has20,000 legal inhabitants.

Source: Xinhua

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