Tourists told to avoid Ecuador’s coastal regions, but Galapagos travel is unaffected

Tourists advised to avoid Ecuador coastal provinces
By Linsey McNeill
Home » Tourists told to avoid Ecuador’s coastal regions, but Galapagos travel is unaffected

The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to Ecuador’s coastal provinces following an increase in violence, including murders and kidnappings.

The update follows the introduction of a state of emergency as part of a crackdown on drug gangs in the country.

The ‘no travel’ advice includes Guayas (pictured), the province where Guayaquil Airport is located, but the FCDO said it doesn’t apply to transit within Guayaquil Airport, including onward or return travel to the Galapagos islands.

However, a spokesperson for cruise body CLIA UK said cruise lines are monitoring the situation in Ecuador.

“As always, the safety and security of guests, crew and the communities we visit are of the utmost importance for CLIA and its members,” they said.

“Cruise lines work closely with destination authorities and are monitoring the situation. We urge travellers who are considering or have current plans to sail to the region to check directly with their cruise line or travel agent for the current status of their sailings.”

The Foreign Office added: “There have been several security incidents in and around the city of Guayaquil in Guayas province in 2023, including an increase in murders and small explosions. There have also been fatal armed attacks against the police and prosecutors.

“There are instances of express kidnapping, where individuals have been kidnapped for a short period of time, and are often driven to an ATM to withdraw money and then abandoned.”

Other provinces included in the FCDO’s ‘no travel’ advice are Esmeraldas, Manabi, Santa Elena, El Oro, Los Ríos and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas.

The Foreign Office said the change to its advice was ‘due to a high level of gang-related violence linked to the presence of organised crime relating to the production and trafficking of illegal drugs’.

“Tourists are not usually targeted, however, you could be a victim of violence due to mistaken identity or caught up in a security incident involving others.”

The Foreign Office is also advising against all but essential travel to areas within 20km of the Ecuador-Colombia border with the exception of several areas in the Carchi province, including the Pan-American Highway.

Travellers between Ecuador and Colombia are advised to use the Pan-American Highway, but, since 11 January, all those entering Ecuador via a land border – either from Colombia or Peru – must present a criminal record certificate from the country where they’ve lived for the last five years.

“The certificate must be legalised with the Hague Apostille,” according to the FCDO.

“This policy was announced on 11 January for implementation with immediate effect,” it said. “If you do not have the correct documentation you may not be permitted to enter via the land border, and you may have to change your travel plans.

“There are no restrictions in place for anyone flying into Ecuador: the above restrictions apply only to land borders.”

Danny Callaghan, CEO of trade body LATA, said the majority of its members’ clients arrive by air and will be ‘largely unaffected’ by these measures.

Due to the escalating violence in Ecuador, Peru has also declared a state of emergency in all of its northern regions that border the country. Tumbes and Piura have had ongoing states of emergency since November and this measure will add the regions of Amazonas, Cajamarca and Loreto.

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