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Saturday,  July 13, 2024 8:19 AM 

Ecuador: four worlds, one country

  • Air
  •   05-13-2015  10:15 am

Ecuador: four worlds, one country

It’s a destination whose elements read like the beginnings of a riddle: What is the most compact megadiverse country in the world, with access to the Pacific Ocean as well as the Amazon Rainforest, where visitors can see nearly 1,700 species of bird and purchase 25 long-stemmed roses for only one dollar?

Those who know the answer may have been in attendance at the All You Need is Ecuador event, held in Toronto on May 11, part of a 10-day roadshow spanning three Canadian cities and hosted by The Ecuador Ministry of Tourism as well as 20 Ecuadorian suppliers.

Cristina RivadeneiraCristina Rivadeneira, undersecretary of markets, Ecuador Ministry of Tourism, greeted guests prior to a presentation on the highlights of the destination, explaining that Canada, now listed as eighth on Ecuador’s list of top 10 tourism markets, is now one of its five prioritized markets for 2015, and can expect to see and hear a lot more about the South American country in the months to come.

“Ecuador has received $95 million toward its marketing budget for this year,” Rivadeneira told PAX, explaining that a significant portion of its money will be allocated to raise awareness in Canada of Ecuador as a destination.  

The roadshow was timed to take place one month before the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism launches what will be a far-reaching Canadian marketing campaign, the idea being to provide travel agents and tour operators with information that will become useful as their clients become more exposed to – and familiar with – the destination.

“Agents want to see quality,” Rivadeneira said, “and the roadshow is about bringing tour operators with the best products. It’s a win-win situation: we invest in providing Canada with high-quality travel options, and in return, agents send their clients to Ecuador.”

More than 33,200 Canadians visited the country in 2014, up from 27,922 visitors in 2013. The goal now, Rivadeneira explained, is to increase this year’s numbers by 10 per cent – although she suspects the increase will be closer to 14 per cent.

Francisco DousebésA presentation to the assembled guests was delivered by Francisco Dousebés, product manager for Metropolitan Touring, who laid out Ecuador’s size, comparatively small next to its South American neighbours;  any of its four main territories are reachable within a 45 minute flight once within the country, an advantage for travellers.

Home to an ever-changing landscape that includes more than 1,600 km of Pacific coastline; 62 volcanoes that make up the Andes; direct access to the Amazon Rainforest (which makes up 40 per cent of the country’s territory); and of course, the famous Galapagos Islands (97 per cent of which is a protected area), Dousebés pointed out that travellers to Ecuador have the unique opportunity to see an entire country during a standard trip length and never be bored.

Twenty-fifteen has been declared the ‘year of quality’ by Ecuador’s Minister for Tourism, referring to the country’s goal of increasing accessibility to visitors by upgrading main roadways, renovating 12 of its airports, and, according to Rivadeneira, putting a significant emphasis on crime reduction.

“In the past, Latin America has had a reputation for not being safe,” she told PAX. “Now, Ecuador is number four among the safest countries in South America.”

Enhancements are also taking place within the country’s tourism sector, which ranks as its third source of income, including the creation of heritage and culture-based attractions, such as introducing a chocolate route that features Ecuador’s chocolate farms along the Pacific coast.

Of course, working with Canadian-based agencies is key for increasing Ecuador’s visitor rates, an initiative that Rivadeneira said will see a lot of attention in the coming months, starting with a meet-and-greet with the country’s top tour operators, which directly followed the event presentation.

“We want to give agents the support that they need,” she said, promising that Ecuador would be back to Canada very soon, with several more agent-focused events planned for throughout the year. “Ecuador has a lot to offer, and if we can provide them the right information, the agents will see results.”

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