ECUADOR DIGESTCustoms officers step up airport luggage searches
Customs police at the international airports in Quito and Guayaquil are taking a closer look at what passengers are bringing into Ecuador.
According to Jose Francisco Rodriguez, assistant director of the National Customs Service, customs officers expect passengers to understand the new regulations that went into effect this summer. “These have been widely publicized and the information is posted at every airport in the country.” He added that foreign travelers are given literature during in-coming international flights explaining the new rules. “Obviously, we are more tolerant of tourists in terms of the rules.”
Rodriguez says the items most often flagged by his office are clothing, cell phones, computers and liquor that exceed allowable rates. “If you bring in new clothes for your personal use it is not a problem, but if you have a large amount of clothing for resale we will apply a tax.” The tax for excess new clothing is $5.50 per kilo. According to Rodriguez, some passgengers are leaving clothing at airports rather than paying the tax.
In addition to excess clothing, described as more than $500 of new merchandise, other ítems subject to new taxes are liquor, cell phones and laptop computers. The limit for non-taxable liquor is three liters and passengers are allowed to bring in one new cell phone and laptop without paying taxes.
TRAIN SERVICE RETURNS TO RIOBAMBA AND AMBATO
The first reconstructed leg of Ecuador’s national railway system has opened between Riobamba with Ambato. Hundreds of passengers crowded the new cars for the 76 kilometer run between the cities, November 30.
Ecuador’s rail system had been mostly abandoned following the devastation of the 1999 El Niño. Landslides destroyed more than 100 kilometers of track.
The government of Ecuador announced in 2009 that it would rebuild the system, beginning with the Riobamba to Ambato link, with expansion to Quito and Cuenca to follow.
Freddy Cabrera, head of the southern branch of the Public Company Railways of Ecuador, said that operation of the Riobamba to Ambato line will be studied before work begins on the remainder of the 456 kilometer project.
AIRPORT SERVING LOJA REOPENS AFTER 16 MONTH CLOSURE
The Camilo Ponce Enriquez Airport in Catamayo reopens December 17 after months of realignment and resurfacing work. The airport serves Loja and Vilcabamba in southern Ecuador.
During the 16-month closure, most travelers to Loja, a city of 175,000, were forced to travel by car or bus from Cuenca or Guayaquil. Tame, the airline that serves Camilo Ponce Enriquez Airport, offered Loja-bound passengers special bus service to and from Cuenca.
CLARO ANNOUNCES SALES AND SERVICE FOR THE APPLE IPHONE5
Cell phone operator Claro announced that it will begin sales of the Apple iPhone5 on December 14.
The company said it had delayed sales until it had completed upgrades to its cell tower service to meet the technical requirements of the new phone.
The 16GB iPhone5 will be sold by Claro for $299, plus tax, on the $99 montly plan that includes 697 service minutes.
Photo caption: Camilo Ponce Enriquez Airport in Catamayo.