Kidnapping, Killings and a New Tourism Security Plan in Ecuador

Security Plan Ecuador

Ecuador Tourism means postcard pretty scenery, cities, volcanoes, national parks and of course Galapagos islands. They are among the world famous tourism attractions there. There is however a dark or perhaps bloody red side of tourism in this South American country – and a brand new plan to make the country safe again.

Co-funded by US taxpayers, and under the leadership of recognized Texas-based tourism expert Dr. Peter Tarlow, who is affiliated with this publication and its Safer Tourism Consulting Group proudly presented a new tourism security plan to a group or Ecuadorian mayors yesterday.

The official presentation of the new tourism security plan to the mayors of cities that rely on tourism on the Ecuadorian coast was handed over by Dr. Tarlow in an undisclosed city in Ecuador. Tarlow went back and forth to Ecuador over the last few months despite great security concerns.

Tarlow along with the mayors he was consulting tried to keep this project away from the press, fearing retaliation by the “bad guys. Several mayors were murdered during (but unrelated) the development of this “safe tourism” plan.

Why is Ecuador so unsafe for visitors?

One of the reasons may be government officials cannot be trusted. HE Niels Olsen, the young tourism minister who also rents a bed and breakfast in his country declared Ecuador safe when he spoke at the tourism resilience celebration at the United Nations in New York recently.

The Honorable Niels Olsen from Ecuador knew better, but Ecuador needs tourism to flourish.

In 2021 eTurboNews and Dr. Peter Tarlow celebrated Olsen as a new powerhouse for Ecuador tourism. At that time Ecuador was calm and welcoming. He certainly remains in this post and remains safe himself despite so many challenges.

It’s true, until approximately three years ago, Ecuador was known as a peaceful nation within Latin America. However, the present scenario showcases criminal activity spreading throughout affluent and middle-class areas, with various types of perpetrators such as hired assassins, kidnappers, extortionists, and a significant number of thieves and burglars.

Coastal cities like Guayaquil have become strongholds for Mexican and Colombian cartels, which have established control over lucrative drug trafficking operations, involving hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cocaine being transported from neighboring Colombia and Peru to other countries.

The Canadian government is warning its citizens to be aware of their surroundings at all times; and ensure that their belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times.

Ecuador is under a state of ‘internal armed conflict’ due to crime. A separate state of emergency has been declared for the provinces of El Oro, Guayas, Los Ríos, Manabí, and Santa Elena. A visitor entering Ecuador via land or river borders from Peru or Colombia must present an apostilled police check covering every country they have lived in during the previous 5 years. Electricity shortages, including planned outages, are affecting the country.

Embassies warn to specifically not travel within 20km of the border with Colombia, except the official border crossing at Tulcan, due to the high risk of kidnapping and violent crime associated with drug-related criminal organizations.

The US Travel advisories for Ecuador states:

Reconsider your need to travel to Sucumbios and Esmereldas provinces and Guayaquil City due to the high level of gang-related crime and the threat of kidnapping.

Do not travel to:

  • Guayaquil, south of Portete de Tarqui Avenue, due to crime.
  • The cities of Huaquillas and Arenillas in the province of El Oro, due to crime.
  • The cities of Quevedo, Quinsaloma, and Pueblo Viejo in the province of Los Rios, due to crime.
  • The canton of Duran, in the province of Guayas, due to crime.
  • Esmeraldas city and all areas north of Esmeraldas city in Esmeraldas province, due to crime.

Reconsider travel to:

  • Guayaquil north of Portete de Tarqui Avenue due to crime.
  • El Oro province is outside the cities of Huaquillas and Arenillas, due to crime.
  • Los Rios province outside the cities of Quevedo, Quinsaloma, and Pueblo Viejo, due to crime.
  • All areas south of Esmeraldas city in Esmeraldas province, due to crime.
  • The provinces of Sucumbios, Manabi, Santa Elena, and Santo Domingo due to crime.

Crime is a widespread problem in Ecuador. Violent crime, such as murder, assault, kidnapping, and armed robbery, is prevalent. The rate of violent crime is significantly higher in areas where transnational criminal organizations are concentrated.

Demonstrations occur frequently throughout the country, usually motivated by political and/or economic factors. Demonstrators routinely block local roads and major highways, often without prior notice which can lead to disruption in access to critical infrastructure.  

Outside of Ecuador’s major towns and cities, much of the country’s territory is sparsely populated and isolated. Government assistance may be very limited and can lead to significant delays for assistance to U.S. citizens in remote areas.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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