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Agencies Cancel Tours to Galapagos Islands

September 9, 1995

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ Travel agents canceled trips to the famous Galapagos Islands on Friday after islanders demanding more government support threatened to take tourists hostage.

The islands, 600 miles west of the coast of Ecuador, are the country’s main tourist attraction, drawing 40,000 visitors a year.

Travel agents said they were suspending tourist packages to the archipelago, and Tourism Minister Armando Espinel called on islanders to end their protest.

Last week, municipal groups, business organizations and labor unions took over the Galapagos’ national park facilities and the airport on San Cristobal. Protesters also blocked roads leading to the airport on Baltra Island, the only airport remaining open to receive tourists.

The protesters want more support for the archipelago’s 10,000 inhabitants.

Galapagos Mayor Victor Aguas warned that the islanders might take tourists hostage if the government does not address their demands. There were no immediate reports of hostage-taking.

The islands are famous for their unique wildlife species, including giant tortoises. The region influenced the development of naturalist Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution.

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