Golden Galapagos Cruises Golden Sustainability program combines innovation and giving back to make a positive impact
With a fleet of premium luxury catamarans that sail around the coveted Galapagos Islands, Golden Galapagos Cruises has been taking travelers to explore the Darwin islands for over two decades. Sustainability and innovation have always been the core values of the company but, now more than ever, Golden Galapagos is determined to intensify its sustainability strategy, practices and measurement by launching the Golden Sustainability program.
We spoke to Marketing Manager Washington del Pino to learn more about the diverse initiatives that are making Golden Galapagos a leader in sustainability in the cruise industry in Latin America. According to the executive, the actions are based on and guided by three axes: care for the environment, social responsibility and innovation for smart development.
REMOTE LA – Why did you launch The Golden Sustainability campaign, and what is the aim of putting together your sustainability practices and going further in your actions?
Washington del Pino – In celebration of World Earth Day, Golden Galapagos announced its commitment to quantify, reduce and offset its greenhouse gases, reinforcing its active role in sustainable tourism in the Galapagos Islands. As of April 22nd, 2022, Golden Galapagos started down the path of achieving Carbon Neutrality in its cruise operations and activities. Practicing responsible tourism allows us to understand our impact on the ecosystems and what plans and actions we must implement.
Through our campaign, “Leave only memories and not footprints”, our objective is to generate consciousness and awareness among our travelers and business partners. Starting that, our guests become agents of change on-site and environmental ambassadors of the islands overseas. Furthermore, our clients (travel agencies and travel companies all over the world) will have in Golden Galapagos a cruise operator partner that is heading toward carbon neutrality to practice responsible tourism.
Our ships are currently going through the reduction and compensation stages; during these past months, together with SICMA, an environmental consultant specializing in managing carbon emissions and footprints, we have been identifying sources of greenhouse gases and we started our verification and certification process with an international entity. By February 2023 Golden Galapagos fleet will be the first cruise operator to neutralize its carbon emissions and reduce them by 25% annually.
As a corporate and active member of Galapagos Conservation Trust (UK), our efforts are directed to support their Shark/Ocean Project. This wide-ranging work aims to save species such as whale sharks, rays, and endangered sharks such as hammerhead and white-tip sharks. This hard evidence is helping get new marine areas protected. For instance, Galapagos has the biggest population of female whale sharks in the world. We want to help Ecuador in its attempts to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 (currently 19%), including adequate enforcement.
All our passengers receive a free one-year individual Galapagos Conservation Trust membership. When you become a member of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, you become a part of the ongoing efforts to preserve and protect these incredible Islands and their unique flora and fauna. As members of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Golden Galapagos also have access to various cutting-edge tools to help improve sustainability practices.
REMOTE LA – How do you believe that innovation can be a great partner of sustainability and how does it fit into Golden Galapagos’ practices?
Washington – We are committed to creating authentic cruise vacations by promoting and practicing sustainable and responsible tourism. At Golden Galapagos Cruises, we’ve sought to innovate aboard our vessels using technology that significantly reduces the impacts of navigation on the islands. The development of our logo was based on several concepts, one of them being innovation (smart initiatives and technology for sustainability), represented by the light bulb on our shield.
Innovation already plays a very important role in Golden Galapagos practices. Our Yachts have been specifically designed to allow plenty of natural light into the suites and social areas, reducing the use of electricity on board. Our fleet uses fuel-efficient engines that reduce consumption of carbon emissions by 15% and the eco-friendly anti-foul paint used on the hulls reduces drag while navigating, reducing the consumption of fuel.
With preventive actions and clever collaborations through our travel agencies partners, we encourage our guests to bring their own water containers; this important action allows us to avoid the usage of single-use plastic on the islands. Golden Galapagos has special water dispensers aboard all of its vessels, saving more than 15,000 single-use plastic bottles per year from entering the islands. All amenities are biodegradable. All plastics used onboard are collected, classified, sterilized, and reused. Along with our Project Manager, we are in contact with new game-changing startups for the cruise industry. By next year, new initiatives will come into play on our cruises and services!
REMOTE LA – What are the major challenges for the future of the Galapagos Islands? And what do you believe is the role of Golden Galapagos not only in preserving but also in giving back to one of the most enchanting destinations in the world?
Washington – A major challenge for the future of Galapagos is to keep the islands as a privileged destination, and not let it drift to become an overcrowded place for tourism. It is such a fragile ecosystem and we must make of Galapagos a place where humans are strangers, that’s our idea of what true luxury is: nature at its purest.
Our tagline and purpose of our environment axe are “give back”. Our conservation and involvement efforts are aimed with the sole intention to give back to the islands everything they have given to us. We have our own policies on board to guarantee a unique experience and useful education for our guests. Some of the specific actions that we have taken include the use of biodegradable products, responsible waste treatment, and prohibiting single-use plastics, among many others. These actions are part of our focus on environmental stewardship as we work to restore ecosystems and neutralize our carbon footprint.
There is also a human side to the islands. Our people, at Golden Galapagos, understand that we have a direct impact on the community and economy in the archipelago, which is why we focus our procurement on locally sourced products and prioritize local recruitment. Golden Galapagos is involved in projects that promote violet economies in the islands – it is a project we are currently working on with the Galapagos Conservancy (US) to accomplish our support.
REMOTE LA – We appreciate your honesty in saying, “We changed direction. We stopped talking and started taking specific actions for the environment, working to solve critical, globally relevant problems“. This is rare and we see the steady rise of greenwashing in tourism. What do you think needs to change in the tourism sector so that we can all move from words to actions?
Washington – All our actions and plans detailed above allowed us to put our efforts into real projects with real and measurable results, not only through critical entities for the conservation of Galapagos but also on board our ships, with our guests, followed by our crew and our office staff in the islands and in Quito. Golden sustainability promotes and practices sustainable luxury tourism, that is respectful of the environment, socially responsible and innovates in every step it takes.
We must understand that tourism has a negative impact on fragile environments, and the tourism industry must be aware of that and not put this rising issue in the blind spot. Identifying corporate reasonability will lead managers to establish corporate goals that favor the environment. Travel Companies like us will see the need to improve and redefine their plans to minimize, reduce or compensate the ecosystem where their businesses run. By doing our part, even though it might be little, all efforts together can start to make a difference and those small but positive results will motivate us to pursue bigger causes in the short and long future.
We must understand that we are not alone on this planet, and we are part of a fragile ecosystem. We are the result of not only natural evolution, but social as well. We must learn to respect and coexist. Golden Galapagos considers tourism a connection between people and nature conservation.
Golden Galapagos Golden Sustainability latest video (August 2022)
Learn more about the Golden Galapagos vessels:
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