What’s the idea?The Galapagos Islands were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site due to their exceptional biodiversity and unspoiled ecosystems, and as the setting that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Unfortunately, the pristine ecosystems and unique wildlife that have made the area a premiere nature tourism destination are at risk. The fragile area faces such threats as invasive species, population growth, unsustainable fishing, inadequate government accountability and oversight, poor education and lack of opportunity for residents, and the impacts of tourism. What does IGTOA do?The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association, or IGTOA, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the complete and lasting protection of the Galapagos. The organization works to promote genuinely sustainable tourism practices, in an effort to preserve the Galapagos Islands for future generations of travelers. They contribute to critical conservation initiatives, such as increasing biosecurity to keep out invasive species, improving the enforcement of fishing regulations and responding to marine crimes, and sponsoring programs to improve education and professional development opportunities for local residents. How does Vaya help?Our founder, Jim Lutz, has been a member of IGTOA’s Board of Directors since 2010, and in 2014 was elected Board President. As such, he is actively involved in finding and screening the specific projects that IGTOA funds and in expanding the organization’s outreach. He is also an active participant in their sustainability training for local guides. As an organization, Vaya Adventures strives to promote sustainable tourism in the Galapagos. We make it a point to promote traditional boat-based tours and to discourage land-based hotel tourism, which is disproportionately damaging to the area’s fragile ecosystems. The Galapagos is one of our favorite destinations, and we’re committed to making sure it is protected and preserved.