Hearing about the devastating earthquake in Ecuador last weekend was not a happy way to start my Sunday. The magnitude-7.8 quake on the northwest coast of the country has claimed almost 600 lives and injured thousands. The small town of Pedernales was almost completely destroyed.
But in case you were wondering: our July tour to Ecuador is still a Go. In fact, it’s more important than ever to visit Ecuador now.
It’s estimated that repairing the damage from the earthquake will cost up to $3 billion. Ecuador lacks the robust economy of places like Chile and Japan to help it recover; it’s going to need outside help. The country is temporarily raising taxes and may have to issue international bonds.
Tourism also plays an important role in the recovery process. As long as you stick to areas that are safe and don’t interfere with the recovery efforts, traveling to a country recently hit by disaster is a valuable way to deliver much-needed dollars to the local economy. It also demonstrates a show of support for the people there. There’s even a term for this kind of travel: “recovery tourism.”
None of the cities in Ecuador that we’ll visit on our tour reported any major damage from the earthquake. I reached out to our local tour guides, and they reported back that they were unharmed and that Quito and Cuenca were largely unaffected. Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism has reported that all tourism operations in the Andes region (the center of the country, and the focus of our tour) as well as the Amazon region to the east and the Galapagos Islands to the west are all open and ready for business.
Mockingbird’s mission is to do good with our travels, and I hope the timing of our Ecuador tour will mean that we can do even more good for the people of Ecuador. We will be exploring additional ways to contribute to the recovery through our tours, and in the meantime, you can donate to organizations actively involved in the relief effort. Two good options are CARE (click here to donate) and the Ecuador Red Cross (click here to donate).
Ecuador is an extraordinary country with wonderful people. Join Mockingbird in supporting Ecuador on its long road to recovery.