In contrast to many other Latin American countries, Ecuador had
a small tourist industry, and it played only a minor role in the
economy in the 1980s. In 1985 approximately 250,000 tourists
visited Ecuador and contributed over US$200 million to the economy.
Colombia was the source of 36 percent of the visitors, followed by
the United States with 2l percent and Western Europe with 18
percent. Ecuador did not include brief cross-border visits in
official tourist statistics, so these figures do not include the
many Colombian visitors who were only on short shopping trips,
taking advantage of the generally lower prices in Ecuador.
The government provided limited support of tourism, and many
colonial towns, ancient ruins, and areas of natural beauty were
undeveloped because of lack of promotion or inadequate
infrastructure for visitors. The most popular tourist destination
in the 1980s was the Galápagos Islands, but concerns over the
delicate and unique environment limited large-scale tourism there.
The National Directorate of Tourism was attempting to broaden the
tourist destinations available.
Data as of 1989