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TOURISM IN SALINAS

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TOURISM IN SALINAS


Salinas, located on the south coast of Ecuador, on Santa Elena Peninsula, just 150 kilometers from Guayaquil, offers a great diversity of landscapes, sports and entertainment. With its highly up-to-date infrastructure and with the best hotels in the world, this resort calls itself the most exclusive in Ecuador: only the wealthiest come here, not only from Ecuador and the continent, but from all over the world.

Tourism in Ecuador used to be equated by many people with a visit to the Galapagos Islands. Nowadays many tourists have realized that other resorts enjoy the benefits of an impressive infrastructure and exclusiveness, like Salinas.

The resort took its name from the former activity of taking salt from its beaches, and it was once considered as one of the least attractive beaches in the country, because of its desert landscapes. Thanks to a community program, the countryside has become green again and now great ceibo trees and prosperous farms can be seen on the road to the city. The highway is also in excellent condition and the section from Guayaquil to Salinas is marked by a brusque change in landscape as you approach the coast.

There is entertainment for all the family; and its nightlife offers a multiplicity of discotheques, bars and restaurants, livened up with the hot rhythm of the Ecuadorians. The best restaurants offer a good ceviche (fish stew), one of the specialties of Ecuador. The resort has good hotels, as well as a casino and a Yacht Club with modern facilities.

There are many resorts like this in Ecuador, with characteristically modern premises, as well as beautiful beaches with crystal-clear water and white sands.

Nowadays Salinas is a good example to keep in mind. Its history tells that 30 years ago, the Salinas parish in the Province of Bolivar was a small town in Ecuador like so many other towns, forgotten by central government, with little hope of development, distant and lost in the middle of the mountains, abandoned by the supposed state modernization drive. But things have changed, and today Salinas is recognized as an example of community development.

The town of Salinas has been inhabited for hundreds of years, due to its salt mines, that can still be visited, and which gave the former parish its name.

In the pre-Inca period, Salinas belonged to the Tomabelas people of the Chimbos tribe. Salt, at that time, ensured the population great prestige and power. Salt was then used for preserving food, so it had a high value, so much so that a small quantity could be exchanged for gold, cotton and other valuable products.

In the 15th century, the Incas annexed Ecuador to their empire. The Tomabelas continued exploiting and supplying salt to their people and to the Incas from the north of Peru. But the real decline of the Tomabela culture came with the Spanish Conquest. Once Ecuador was subjected to the Spanish Crown, the lands were shared out among the conquistadors. Some Spaniards settled in the region and the parish took on a poly-ethnic character (Indians and Spaniards).

At the start of the 70's, the parish of Salinas was, by Ecuadorian standards, very poor. Most of the population had no access to basic services and lived in precarious shelters. Working the mines was a particularly arduous and poorly-paid job, which was taken advantage of by the authorities of the time, realizing that they could rely on various tools to improve the quality of life, launching a properly planned development process. They began with the Salinas people who took over the ownership of the salt-mines. Unfortunately the mineral salt market fell dramatically, since technology was created to extract sea-salt, this being easier and less costly. Sea-salt began to invade the national market, frustrating the initial development process.

As they already had a certain organization process, based on the idea that the labor cooperatives should be developed in accordance with market needs, the people of Salinas decided to continue with their community initiatives, using the cooperative as a savings and credit body. The savings provided by each member enabled the cooperative to finance the setting up of the first cheese factory "El Salinerito", in the parish center. In every area the "Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito Salinas Ltda" financed small projects, through low interest loans over acceptable terms.

The reimbursement of these loans quickly made it possible to open up other economic activities and carry out some infrastructure works for the community. Things went so well that by the end of the 70's the cooperative could not meet all the requests from places around the parish. So they decided to form a larger organization that would cover all these organizations - the FUNORSAL (Fundacion de Organizaciones de Salinas / Salinas Organizations Foundation). Today, the FUNORSAL supports more than twenty base organizations with approximately 1,500 active members.

The cheese factories were the first companies to get started in Salinas under this cooperative model. This new way involved the profits generated not remaining in just a few hands, but all the community taking advantage of the surplus. Every employee receives a wage and the dairy processing plant buys the production from the milk producers. Once the cheeses are sold, the profits are distributed among the community in the form of different basic services; infrastructure works, roads, health and education. This happens in each small community near the initial parish.

Nowadays, Salinas is an important tourist center with luxurious housing complexes that are sold and rented. Among the most popular water sports are diving, fishing, surfing, windsurfing, water-skiing and sailing. Another common activity here is whale-watching, which costs 25 dollars per person.

In view of all that we have told you about Salinas, we are sure that you will want to visit it. In the event, you will be received with open arms, and with the warmth that characterizes its people.
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