*Campaign to Help Rebuild the Economy for Local People and Wildlife*
Lindblad Expeditions, a global provider of expedition cruises, and Island Conservation, an international not-for-profit conservation organization, have launched the Galápagos Island Relief Fund to provide immediate financial relief for the people of the Galápagos Islands who have been devastated by the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism accounts for more than 80% of the Galápagos economy, so in March, when travel restrictions suddenly halted the tourism industry, 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 $50 million, almost a quarter of the annual income; and the Galápagos Chamber of Tourism recently reported that visitors between July and October dropped a staggering 95%. The economic devastation also poses a serious threat to the conservation of this extraordinary and pristine archipelago.
Donations received by the Galápagos Island Relief Fund will enable Fundación Un Cambio Por La Vida (FUNCAVID), a local non-profit 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 its inspiring journey of protecting the unique ecosystems and wildlife of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
“The people of Galápagos are struggling more than I’ve seen in my 53-year relationship with the Islands,” stated Sven Lindblad, Founder and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions. “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 US$500,000. The main fundraising mechanism will be an outreach to Lindblad guests who have voyaged with them to Galápagos. The small ship cruise 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.
“The Galápagos Island Relief Fund will enable Galápagos community members to further their education, create new businesses, and increase local food security—steps that are essential to building a more sustainable way of life on the islands, in which people and wildlife can thrive,” explained Karl Campbell, Island Conservation’s Executive Director of Latin America.
Daniel Proaño, FUNCAVID Project Coordinator noted, “Together we will transform the strongest crisis that has impacted Galápagos and the world into an opportunity building bridges to bring our heritage to a higher level of resilience. Through your donation, we will be able to empower the dreams and creativity of the islanders, driving a productive reactivation through innovative ventures, with a social focus and the use of good environmental practices.”
Every dollar raised (100% of funds donated) will stay in Galápagos. Persons interested in supporting the Galápagos Island Relief Fund may do so at islandrelief.fund. All donations, made through Island Conservation, a 501(c)3 charity, are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
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