Ecuador seeks to reach two million international tourists

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Ecuador seeks to reach two million international tourists
Niels Olsen
Source: Travel2latam
March 15, 2022

The South American country has been making rapid progress to recover pre-pandemic levels and enhance its infrastructure

Ecuador is one of the countries that has marked the best performance in terms of the recovery of tourism in the Americas, to learn about the situation in detail, during SAHIC, we have been able to interview the Minister of Tourism Niels Olsen. We share his responses below: 

What kind of tourism investments do you have planned for this year?
We as the Ministry of Tourism attract new investments in infrastructure, but we do not invest directly. We are the entity responsible for the regulation and control of the tourism sector and in addition to the promotion of the country to attract international tourists to Ecuador. Obviously we are also in charge of promoting domestic tourism where we implement various actions. This Government has only been working for ten months and we started with a budget of 47 million dollars to invest for the next four years, which clearly demonstrates the President's commitment to betting on tourism as the industry of the future for our country. The goals are to reach two million international tourists and also attract high-quality investment.

How can you describe the hotel offer?
The country is divided into four regions: coast, mountains, Amazon and Galapagos. There is a very good hotel offer If we compare the numbers of 2021 with 2020, we have recovered 27% of international tourists when the average in Latin America is 17%. Cuenca, for example, has had an excellent occupation mainly due to tourism in Guayaquil, so Ecuadorians have opted to travel within the country and there is still a lot of work to be done, but we are starting off on the right foot.

What is the engine that can sustain such great growth?
There have been several actions, but the main one has been the vaccination plan, when our Government began there was approximately 5% of the population vaccinated, now we are over 90%. The President together with the Minister of Health led a very successful plan. From the Ministry of Tourism, what we did was give priority to our sector at the time of inoculation, we were the first country in South America to have its entire tourism industry vaccinated.
We are promoting a country with a successful vaccination plan that has never closed its doors, with quite strict biosecurity protocols but that do not interfere with the customer experience.

In which areas is it relevant to expand the hotel offer?
We as the Ministry of Tourism are in charge of promoting all destinations and we give the national or international investor all the facilities and support, a kind of red carpet. They have our support.
We are working directly with the community tourism centers to be able to digitize their tourist services and collaborating with different institutions to be able to offer credits with good conditions so that they can improve their offer and their infrastructure. In addition, we are also putting a lot of energy and attention into Ecuador's protected areas so that there are high-quality investments within them. It is very important to clarify that we are looking for projects that have a very low environmental impact but generate added value for society. We must use tourism as a vehicle for development and conservation in the country.

What type of properties is a priority to incorporate?
I think that a combination, for us any investment that is of high quality is going to be completely welcome and will have our greatest collaboration to enter the country.
Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca and Manta, for example, are actively participating in events in the MICE segment, while smaller regions such as the Amazon, for example, are attracting interest from international and national investors.

What are the most demanded destinations at the moment?
The new trend of the international traveler is to seek authentic and unique experiences and in that sense, we have destinations that can meet this demand. When we talk about hi-end tourists, the most chosen continues to be Galapagos. We also see how behavior is changing, that the traveler is extending their stay in continental Ecuador such as Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and other destinations.

What expectations do you have regarding the number of international visitors for this year?
I am optimistic, Ecuador is the most resilient destination in South America, we are still far from reaching the number of 2019, however we are very positive, by 2025 we will have 2 million high-quality international tourists arriving in our country.


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