Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Richard Pollnac


Social carrying capacity is crucial to the long term survival of a tourist destination. The purpose of this thesis is to help tourism managers in the Galapagos Islands understand the critical factors related to social carrying capacity in order to maximize the value of the resource. It includes: a literature review of social carrying capacity studies, a description of the Galapagos Islands, tourism, and a description of visitors and their levels of satisfaction based on two surveys.

Visitors to the Galápagos Islands are all very different, and the results of the surveys demonstrate the wide range of visitors. As was expected, the results show that as number of groups encountered increases, willingness to pay decreases although the correlation was low. Social carrying capacity is a very dynamic concept and cannot be accurately measured in the Galapagos. Attempts to measure social impacts based on use levels and satisfaction should not be made. The Park Service should continue monitoring use levels at the individual sites and make the necessary adjustments when problems occur.



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