After coronavirus set a before and after in modern history, people in tourism were the last to lose faith and realize the severity of the virus in the industry’s operations. Nevertheless, many tourism companies didn’t survive the forced shutdown due to closed borders, no air connectivity, nor travel, or willingness to do it in a short time.
Besides the first instinct of shutting down operations until things get “normal” again, we were one of the first three cruise companies that started operations soon after the National Park opened the borders for tourism. Yet, we have constantly been operating our fleet every week since August 2020.
Why did Galagents do it?
Galapagos’ economy relies on tourism, and that is not new. However, what was new for everybody was seeing a community without cash and bartering for the first time to survive. They were completely isolated from the mainland, as the species were in the past. Galapagos was sinking in a profound depression not only economically but also mentally.
Life in Galapagos passes from a vibrant and inspirational destination to a ghost town where nobody could even walk freely.
We are a Galapagueño cruise company, and since 2008, we were committed to people and the development of the Galapagos Islands. However, due to the pandemic, we had to reduce our operation crew by about 60%, but in August 2021, we now have 3% more employees compared to the employees we had than in the pre-pandemic period.
As the study from the ESPOL University (Jan-2021), cruise activities in the Galapagos Islands generated, by 2019, 2,646 workplaces in Ecuador. 82% of them (2,186) were in Galapagos and the rest on the mainland. And we had a stake in it so that we couldn’t avoid our responsibility.
That’s why we decided to restart operations in August 2020 to reactivate the local economy by offering an income to all our crew, guides, and suppliers and inspire other companies to start their operations.
What was the result we got?
We immediately impacted 50 local families’ economies that work directly with Galagents in Galapagos. Then, we helped to dynamize the island’s economy through our local supply chain, setting the stone of reliability to travel again to Galapagos
Even though the few travels demand to Galapagos, we restarted operations with the Alya cruise. We added a new boat of our fleet to our travel operation every month until October.
Without a doubt, we accomplished our aim of rebounding the tourism activity within the Galapagos, strengthening our relationship with all our stakeholders in and out the islands.
What did we do to guarantee operations during uncertain times?
From August 2020, we began to operate our Galapagos cruise fleet by following this strategy:
- FLEXIBILITY: As owners of our cruise fleet, we could ease cancelation and rescheduling policies by adapting them to our partners’ and travelers´ needs. We aimed to guarantee them the best conditions possible due to the uncertain situation.
- BIOSECURITY: We focused on adapting our operations onboard and inland excursions to international safety measures to minimize risks of virus contagion for our team and travelers.
- LETTING LOCALS DISCOVER THE ISLANDS: Besides what many people think, very few locals can travel to the faraway and isolated islands that are only reachable on cruise ships. The reason is that they prefer to travel out of the archipelago while many others don´t have access to do a cruise as a leisure option. Thus, we helped many locals cruise Galapagos and discover the wonders that international travelers dream of visiting.
- STRENGTHENING DOMESTIC TRAVELERS: Ecuadorians from the mainland were another segment that didn´t have access to visit the beauties of the Galapagos Islands. Thus, we started offering a discounted rate for them with flexible conditions to cruise Galapagos and finally discover the nature flagship wonder of their country.
- OFFERING THE SUPPORT THAT INTERNATIONAL PARTNERED NEEDED: We understood and empathized with them and their travelers. Hence, our commercial and managerial team worked hand-by-hand with our clients to meet their requirements while offering reliable solutions.
How was our performed since August 2020? Was it worth it in the end?
The short answer is great! Our expectations were surpassed by far. Our non-conventional strategy worked, and here are some graphics that summarize our operations since August 2020.
Also, 100 of our travelers have left their reviews on TripAdvisor with a high satisfaction rate of their experience cruising onboard Galagent’s cruise fleet.
In the end, we are following our purpose of being the reliable GALapagos AGENTS (Galagents) that partners and travelers need to experience a meaningful, stressless, and safe experience in the Galapagos Islands onboard Galagents cruises.