IGLTA Contributor / Tuesday, September 17, 2019 / Categories: Travel Blog Ecuador: A Hidden Gem for LGBTQ+ Travelers Ecuador has been for many years one of the world’s most amazing destinations for travelers from all over the globe, thanks to its beauty, history, culture and the Galapagos Islands. However, it remains unknown or on the back burner for most LGBTQ+ travelers, who feel safer with more traditional travel choices like LGBTQ+ cruises or events in cities in the United States and Europe. Even though most of Latin America is traditionally conservative, Ecuador is 1 of only 5 countries in the world whose constitution provides citizens equal rights regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity (since 1998). Ecuador is also one of the few countries in the world to have banned conversion therapy. Under the 2016 Gender Identity Law, transgender people may change their legal gender solely based on self-determination, without undergoing surgery. As of July 2019, same-sex marriage is legal. Aside from its LGBTQ+ rights record, Ecuador is simply an uncomplicated choice for North American gay travelers for several reasons. For example, its capital, Quito, is less than 4 hours away from Florida (which is about the same as flying to Denver). No visa or vaccinations are required for Americans and Canadians, and most Ecuadorians speak English. The official currency is the US dollar, so there’s no need to worry about exchanging money or losing value. In fact, dollars go a long way in Ecuador—as much as 3 times—due to the very low costs of labor, food, gas, transportation, rent, etc. For these reasons, and the fantastic year-round weather in Quito and other cities in the Andes, Ecuador has been recognized for many years as a top destination for retirement, and boasts a growing number of gay expats from North America. For the seventh year in a row, Quito has won the title of “Leader Destination in South America” in the World Travel Awards (i.e. the Oscars of tourism), and the Galapagos have been for decades one of the most coveted natural destinations in the planet. Writen by: Juan Maldonado Juan was born in Quito and moved to the United States in 2006. After many years working for consumer products he decided to follow his passion for hospitality and started a vacation rental business by acquiring several properties in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, where he and his husband Bob have hosted over 2000 guests from 35+ countries. After a couple years of research and behind-the-scenes work, Maldonado and his best friend in Ecuador launched Ecuador Gay Travel in 2019. Ecuador Gay Travel, LLC is the only all-gay tour operator with offices in both Ft. Lauderdale and Ecuador. The company offers premium travel experiences to and from Quito, the Galapagos Islands and Fort Lauderdale, with all-inclusive tours and itineraries designed for and by gay men. Its bi-national team has a combined experience of 35 years in the tourism industry in Ecuador and Florida. Featured image by @alec.mcleod.3 Previous Article My 'LGBTQIAPK' Week at Sea with VACAYA Next Article Uruguay Ranks as a Top LGBTQ+ Destination in Latin America Print 1818 Please login or register to post comments.