DATE: FEBRUARY 1st, 2010
In an effort by the central government of Ecuador to generate more funds, stricter financial and tax legislation are being implimented. A direct effect is on the Ecuadorian tourism sector.
The Galápagos Islands are at the edge of their carrying capacity, absorbing some 120,000 tourists yearly, a figure that almost trebled in the past five years alone.
In 2005, Ecuador attracted 860,000 tourists of the 18.1 million visitors to the South American continent, up 5.1 percent over the previous year.
Top countries of origin of incoming tourism, according to Ecuador Tourism Ministry figures, were Peru, the United States, Columbia, Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany.
An integral marketing plan of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism continues to be ambitious, targeting increasing those numbers significantly in the coming years. Targets include attracting 1.1 million incoming tourists this year, and boosting that figure to 1.7 million by 2010. Hence the strategy to encourage travelers to Ecuador to experience the capital Quito, parts of the Amazon rain forest, the highlands, its volcanoes, its culture, its Pacific coastline, its beaches or its gastronomy.
Different sources estimate that in 2008 tourism generated aproximately USD $450 million, while recent figures estimate tourism to generate aproximately $1 to $1.5 billion US dollars.
In the early days of 2010, the tourism sector (mainly Galapagos related) is in a period of great uncertainty – mainly due to new financial and tax legislations that are focusing on capturing more funds for the central government. As a direct result numerous Galapagos cruise operators are increasing their previously published 2010 cruise rates up to 12%, while a smaller number are planning on maintaining their rates.