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Interview with Ecuador’s Tourism Minister Niels Olsen – Unravel Travel TV

What does tourism represent for Ecuador’s economic activity?

Tourism in Ecuador is a fundamental pillar of its economy, representing the third most important non-oil industry in terms of income generation. In the first half of 2023, the tourism sector generated almost $1 billion in foreign exchange, marking a significant growth of 25.7% compared to 2022 and achieving sales of tourist activities of more than $4.2 billion from January to September.

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) predicts that Ecuador will recover its 2019 international tourist figures by the end of 2023 instead of 2024, thanks to its competitiveness and promotion actions.

How does it contribute to creating direct and indirect employment in the country?

Tourism in Ecuador plays a crucial role in the national economy, being one of the most important sectors for employment generation. This vibrant and diverse industry supports more than 550,000 families across the country. The contribution of tourism to the Ecuadorian labor market is significant, offering job opportunities in a wide range of areas, from hospitality and guide services to transport and the management of tourist attractions.

The tourism industry in Ecuador provides direct employment, as at least 52 other activities benefit from tourism, boosting the growth of related sectors such as gastronomy, artisan trade, the conservation of natural areas, and the preservation of cultural heritage. This translates into a multiplier effect that benefits local communities, promotes entrepreneurship, and encourages infrastructure development in various regions.

Niels Olsen

What are the main tourist attractions of Ecuador at the moment?

Ecuador offers its visitors unique experiences, from sunny beaches and Afro-Ecuadorian culture on the coast to Andean peaks and indigenous history in the Sierra, the rich Amazon biodiversity, and the Galapagos’ unparalleled wildlife. Together, these four Worlds make Ecuador a diverse and enriching tourist destination.

The Coast (El Litoral):

  1. Geography and Climate: The Ecuadorian coast extends along the Pacific Ocean, characterized by its beaches, warm and humid climate, and vast banana and cocoa plantations.
  2. Tourist Attractions: It stands out for its beautiful beaches, such as Salinas, Montañita, and Playas. It is popular for surfing, whale watching (in season), and exploring marine cuisine.
  3. Culture and Festivals: The region is rich in Afro-Ecuadorian culture, especially in the province of Esmeraldas, and is famous for its music and dance festivals.

The Sierra (Los Andes):

  1. Geography and Climate: The Andean mountain range is characterized by its impressive mountain ranges, active and passive volcanoes, and fertile valleys. The weather is cooler and can vary considerably.
  2. Tourist Attractions include historic cities such as Quito and Cuenca, indigenous markets such as Otavalo, and national parks such as Cotopaxi. It is ideal for trekking, mountaineering, and cultural exploration.
  3. Heritage and History: The region has a rich Inca and colonial heritage, with many churches, squares, and historic buildings.

The East (The Amazon):

  1. Geography and Climate: Ecuador’s Amazon region is a vast tropical rainforest characterized by its biodiversity, rivers, and warm and humid climate.
  2. Tourist Attractions: It is a paradise for lovers of nature and adventure, with opportunities to observe wildlife, visit indigenous communities, and carry out activities such as canoeing and hiking.
  3. Biodiversity and Conservation: Home to national parks such as Yasuní, is a crucial area for biodiversity conservation and scientific research.

The Galapagos Islands:

  1. Geography and Climate: A volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, famous for its unique landscapes and endemic wildlife.
  2. Tourist Attractions: The islands are a world-class destination for wildlife observation, diving, and studying evolution. They highlight species such as giant turtles, marine iguanas, and various birds.
  3. Conservation and Scientific Studies: The Galapagos is a living laboratory of evolution and conservation, inspiring scientists and naturalists worldwide.

What new tourist segments and market niches do you plan to boost?

  • Sustainable Tourism and Responsible in Ecuador: As tourism positively changes the lives of local communities and residents, it contributes to the conservation and regeneration of its natural and cultural heritages and generates an unforgettable and enriching experience for visitors.
  • Towns and Magic Rincons and Best Tourism Villages of Ecuador: Revaluing the authentic and unique new emerging destinations for attracting national and international tourists.
  • Turismo Violeta: Ecuador is a pioneer in a program that seeks to identify the needs of women in tourism in the roles of responsible women entrepreneurs, collaborators, and visitors. The product is for the attention of a niche market focused on women.
  • Tourism in Protected Natural Areas: Ecuador is committed to tourism that favors regeneration and environmental conservation for the attraction of high-value tourists and foreign investment.

From which main countries do visitors from Ecuador currently come from?

Ecuador is an increasingly popular destination for travelers from all over the world, especially in 2023. From January to November of this year, the main countries of origin of visitors from Ecuador were the United States, with more than 396,000 visitors, followed by Colombia with 224,000, Peru with more than 110,000 and Spain with 100,000.

This diversity in the origin of visitors reflects the universal appeal of Ecuador, highlighting its ability to attract tourists from different regions, each seeking to experience the rich culture, biodiversity and natural beauty offered by the country.

How has the flow of tourists and connectivity evolved in recent years between Spain and Ecuador?

In recent years, the flow of tourists and connectivity between Spain and Ecuador have experienced a remarkable evolution. During 2022, Ecuador received 113,546 tourists of Spanish nationality, marking an increase of 58% compared to 2021 and reaching a 95% recovery from the 2019 pre-pandemia figures.

Regarding air connectivity, specifically on the Ecuador-Madrid-Ecuador route, passenger transport in 2022 grew by 46.04% compared to the previous year. Of the 267,320 seats offered, 196,713 were demanded, representing 73.59% of the capacity demanded. These data reflect a significant recovery and growing interest in travel between the two countries.

What will it mean for the promotion of tourism in Ecuador to be a Country Partner FITUR 2024?

To increase competitiveness, Ecuador has implemented measures such as tax and fee reduction. It has signed open skies agreements with the United States, which has improved air connectivity and the recovery of international routes.

Ecuador’s participation as a host partner in FITUR 2024 is a crucial strategic step towards achieving its ambitious tourism goals. Hosting this prestigious event, Ecuador not only seeks to reach the target of two million international tourists by 2025, an increase of 25% compared to 2019, but also generate employment opportunities, with the expectation that the tourism sector will employ 700,000 people by that date.

The visibility and networking opportunities offered by FITUR 2024 are fundamental to positioning Ecuador as a world-leading tourist destination, thus driving the growth and diversification of its tourism industry.

What will Ecuador’s stand look like at FITUR 2024 and what proposals and actions can its visitors see?

Ecuador’s stand at FITUR 2024 promises to be a historic milestone for the country. It will be distinguished by being one of the largest and most participatory, with the presence of 48 private companies exhibiting the best in Ecuador. This record number of private exhibitors reflects the dynamism and diversity of Ecuadorian tourist offer.

In addition, the stand will be attended by authorities from several Ecuadorian municipalities, who will have the opportunity to present and promote their unique destinations with a comprehensive vision of the country’s multiple tourist facets.

One of the highlights will be the series of gastronomic exhibitions. These will show the authentic flavors and rich culinary culture of Ecuador, allowing visitors to experience the diversity and richness of their cuisine through demonstrations and tastings.

The President of Ecuador, demonstrating the importance of the event, will join the Kings of Spain to officially inaugurate the stand and Ecuador’s participation in the fair.

In short, Ecuador’s booth at FITUR 2024 will represent the country’s cultural, natural and gastronomic richness, providing visitors with an unforgettable experience and a deep understanding of what makes Ecuador an exceptional tourist destination.