QUITO, Ecuador --
The timing, perhaps, was not the best for tourism promotion. But
the ouster of former Ecuadorian President Lucio Gutierrez coincided
precisely with the opening of BITE, one of Ecuador's main annual
Groups of tour
operators, wholesalers and other attendees missed the conferences
opening night inauguration in Cuenca on April 20, when they were
unable to leave Quito. Quitos airport was closed for several hours,
canceling many flights, when nearly 1,000 anti-Gutierrez protesters
flooded the tarmac and runway to prevent his escape from the
By the next day,
Gutierrez was in the Brazilian embassy, and flights were back on
schedule, enabling attendees to arrive in Cuenca in time for the
first day of the trade show.
President Alfredo Palacios, installed as president, quickly began
replacing government ministers, with Gladys Eljuri de Alvarez (who
had just hosted a party for BITE attendees) replaced by Maria
Isabel Salvador as minister of tourism.
The changes will
have minimal effect on tourism development in Ecuador, according to
Patricio Tamariz Duenas, executive director of Fondo Mixto de
Promocion Turistica del Ecuador.
Its been turmoil,
but its been peaceful turmoil, he told Travel Weekly. I do foresee
now a period of calm.
Tamariz also said
the fact that his organization is funded by both public and private
sectors helps to bring stability, and the organizations plans for
its continuing $8.8 million promotional effort remain
programs components is a 30-second commercial airing on CNN
International and CNN en Espanol.
wholesalers attending BITE said they expected demand for Ecuador to
relating to recent political instability] is definitely more
perception than reality, said Jonathan Pinto, president of Platinum
Travel Systems, a San Diego-based wholesaler that specializes in
All of the ground
operators here are very good, and if there were a demonstration or
[any disturbance], they would know how to handle it. Weve never had
reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].