Tourists may enter Ecuador with tourist cards in place of visas if they are citizens of other Western Hemisphere countries. Visitors need a yellow-fever inoculation certificate if arriving from infected areas. Tourist facilities on the coast include modern resort hotels and fine beaches. Ecuador's highlands, reached by air or by the spectacular railroad or highway, are rich in natural beauty. Quito, the second-highest capital in the world, has modern hotels and transportation. Its churches and monasteries, with their delicately carved doors and altars, and an abundance of exquisite paintings and sculptures, make Quito, in the words of a 1979 UNESCO citation, a "cultural patrimony of mankind."
An important part of Ecuador's cultural life is the feria, or market day, which takes place weekly in many towns. The town of Otavalo, about 56 km (35 mi) north of Quito, is well known for its colorful Saturday fairs. The Galápagos Islands, world-famous for their unusual wildlife, have become a popular site for ecotourism.
Tourism has the potential to experience significant growth in Ecuador, given the natural attractions and architectural and historical sights. Further development of ecotourism must be carefully managed to avoid a negative impact on Ecuador's environment.
In 2000, there were 615,493 tourist arrivals in Ecuador, about 47% from other countries in South America. Tourism receipts totaled $402 million. There were 36,726 hotel rooms with 78,349 bed-places that year.
In 2001, the US government estimated the cost of staying in Guayaquil was $162 per day and daily expenses in Quito were estimated at $175.