This will provide immediate financial relief for the people of the Galápagos Islands who have been devastated by the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism accounts for more than 80% of the Galápagos economy so, in March, when travel restrictions suddenly halted travel, 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 $50m, almost a quarter of the annual income. The Galápagos Chamber of Tourism recently reported that visitor numbers between July and October dropped a staggering 95%.
The economic devastation also poses a serious threat to the conservation of this extraordinary archipelago.
Funding for micro-loans
Donations received by the Galápagos Island Relief Fund will enable Fundación Un Cambio Por La Vida, a local nonprofit organization, to disseminate micro-loans to the people of the Galápagos.
The monies 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 the community can continue protecting the ecosystems and wildlife of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Islanders are struggling
'The people of Galápagos are struggling more than I’ve seen in my 53-year relationship with the Islands,' Lindblad Expeditions Founder and CEO Sven Lindblad said. '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 $500,000. The main fundraising mechanism will be an outreach to Lindblad travelers who have sailed to the Galápagos. The 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.
Every dollar raised (100% of funds donated) will stay in Galápagos. Persons interested in supporting the fund may do so at islandrelief.fund. Donations made through Island Conservation, a 501(c)3 charity, are tax deductible in the US.