Tourists are returning to the Galapagos and one reason may be that all of the islands’ 25,000 residents over the age of 16 are vaccinated. Ecuador Health Minister Ximena Garzón calls the Galapagos’ vaccination campaign a “fabulous success.”
The Governing Council of the Galapagos said it met little resistance in its vaccination efforts. “Everyone here understands how important it is to restore the tourism trade and almost everyone agreed to be vaccinated,” said council member Juan Cortez. “There were a few people who showed hesitation but we were able to change their minds by applying a little persuasion. We felt that it was necessary to tell the world that we are 100 percent vaccinated.”
The number of tourists entering the Galapagos grew 17 percent in June compared to May. The 8,698 tourists are still far below the 23,000 monthly average that arrived before the pandemic but tourism interest say they are satisfied the trend will continue. “The growth is little by little but we see the light at the end of the tunnel and look forward to returning to normal conditions,” Cortez says.
Lasso orders senior discount for internet, mobile phone plans
President Guillermo Lasso has signed an executive order reducing the cost of internet and mobile phone service by as much as 50 percent for residents over 65. The president said that electronic accessibility has become a necessity and that the rate reductions offered seniors for other services should also apply to internet and mobile phone service.
Called the Senior Plan, Lasso’s order will apply to 200 cell phone voice minutes per month, 5 GB of Internet browsing and 2 GB for use on collaborative platforms and free megabytes for an instant messaging. Minister of Telecommunications Vianna Maino said that full details of the plan are being worked out and will be announced soon.
Tariffs removed from 667 products and services
The government announced Saturday that import tariffs are being removed from 667 products and services and will be reduced on hundreds of others. Among products that will begin entering the country tariff-free beginning in August are computers, printers and other computer- and internet-related products such as fiber optic cable and memory devices. The tariff for digital cameras will drop from 25 percent to five percent.
Among other products that will see tariffs eliminated are agricultural equipment, automotive products and machinery, raw materials and a range of capital goods.
The import cost reductions were unanimously adopted by Ecuador’s Foreign Trade Committee (COMEX) at the request of the Ministry of Production and Foreign Trade. The Ministry says the elimination of tariffs will cost the government $180 million annually but says the loss will be more than recouped through increased sales tax collection and commercial activity.