Galapagos adopts new rules for int’l and national tourists; Real estate sales plunge nationally in 2020
The Galapagos Governing Council has adopted the same international traveler requirements announced Wednesday by Ecuador’s national government. Beginning Monday, March 22, those flying or boating into the islands can present proof of vaccination instead of negative Covid-19 test results. Unvaccinated travelers can still enter with a negative test result of 72 hours or less.
The Governing Council announced its decision Friday afternoon. Because of the Galapagos’ unique ecological status, the national government allows it to set its own tourism rules.
“It is becoming clear that vaccines will soon be mandatory for most international travel and for the revitalization of tourism,” said Norman Ray, president of the council. “Tourism interests have suffered terribly in the Galalpagos and we are eager to rebuild the industry.”
Ray said that the option to enter the Galapagos with a negative Covid test could end at some point in the future. “Like everyone else in tourism, we want standardized procedures that will be followed internationally, for the airlines, hotels and tour business.”
The governing council said that the new rules apply to mainland Ecuadorian residents as well as foreign travelers.
Real estate sales and building starts plunge nationally
The Ecuador Association of Real Estate Professionals reports a 28.2 percent decline in real estate sales in 2020 compared to 2019, and a 21.9 percent drop in contracts for new construction. “The major factor in 2020 was the pandemic and that continues to affect the market in 2021,” the association said. “In addition, concern about the presidential runoff election will also depress activity through May.”
The association said the declines in sales and construction starts are consistent across the country, with Quito and Cuenca faring slight better. “Once the recovery begins, we expect the Quito and Cuenca markets to be the strongest due to growth in those cities.”