CUENCA, Ecuador -- This nation's tourism minister, Doris Soliz
Carrion, said her department aims to double tourist arrivals in
four years, to a total of 1.2 million. She also said she hopes
tourism will become Ecuador's top income producer within a decade.
Soliz was speaking at BITE (the Spanish acronym for Ecuador's
international tourism trade fair), held here last month.
During a press conference, she pledged "to provide the best
environment for overseas tour operators."
As for Ecuadoreans, Soliz said the department "wants to enfold
rural and ethnic communities in this, too. ... We won't leave
BITE, founded in the 1980s, was left dormant for a decade or so
and revived last year. This year, it drew 129 exhibitors plus 82
overseas buyers and 79 Ecuadorean buyers, according to Gladys
Eljuri de Alvarez, BITE's president.
In the future, Eljuri de Alvarez said, she wants to see the fair
expanded to include Bolivia, Colombia and Peru because "we should
be united in Latin America."
Booth space was set aside on the trade show floor this year for
the other countries, but Colombia's space was vacant when Travel
The tourism ministry announced in April a public relations and
marketing campaign in the U.S. that may cost from $5 million to $10
million this year. The project aims to lure more customers to
mainland Ecuador, supplementing the business already done at the
country's best-known destination, the Galapagos Islands.
Ecuadorean tour operators at BITE applauded the investment,
noting that business from the U.S. is recovering but is not yet at
Martin Andrade, marketing director for the Metropolitan Touring
outlet in Cuenca, said Latin America benefits by being close to the
U.S., but not enough people know "what Ecuador is."
He pointed to the successes of Costa Rica and Peru and said
that, using those destinations as a model, Ecuador must create a
brand. In addition, Andrade said, the Galapagos already have a
strong brand, but it is not well identified with the rest of
He called the tourism ministry's promotions "a good start. ...
Our company spends a lot of money but not what a government can
Liliana Vasquez de Salazar, general manager of Millennium Travel
in Quito, said it would be good to attract more business to the
mainland, and promotion will be "a major help because if you don't
show what you have, you don't sell."
Oscar Sarabia, a sales agent for Klein Tours in Quito, said the
government campaign is "a very good thing," but "it doesn't matter
what it focuses on. If people go to the Galapagos, they will go
Calling the U.S. Klein's biggest market, Sarabia termed it an
"easy market" because Americans "like our products."