GUAYAQUIL - ECUADOR
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
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
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.