New Ministry of Tourism regulations will require operators of so-called “adventure tours” to carry accident and civil liability insurance policies and includes provisions to improve the care and treatment of horses used for long-distance treks.
According to the Tourism Ministry, most of the new rules have the support of the tourism industry, although some tour companies consider the insurance requirement overly burdensome.
The Ministry said that the rising number of deaths and serious injuries in recent years require the insurance requirement. “It is standard practice in most of the world that operators insure their clients and themselves in the case of accidents,” said Paul Ramos, Ministry spokesman. “Ultimately, this will benefit the industry by assuring potential customers that Ecuador follows standard practices.”
In 2019, 13 people died and 47 were seriously injured on tours conducted by licensed operators. Most of the deaths and injuries were the result of river rafting, mountain climbing and diving accidents. “The numbers were lower in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic but we expect an increase in 2022 as tourism returns to normal levels,” Ramos said.
The new rules also require improved care of horses used for trekking, including annual veterinary check-ups and up-to-date vaccinations records. “In addition, we want to improve the conditions that the animals work and live under,” Ramos said. “We have received a number of reports of mistreatment and our staff will perform occasional inspections of stables.”
Among other updates of tourism regulations is that at least 50% of tour personnel have a university degree in tourism and that certificates are current and that labor laws are followed.”