Experiencing Ecuador

A new campaign aims to attract more visitors who will want to stay longer

By: Terra Judge

With Ecuador’s new “Life at its Purest” campaign, officials hope to see tourism surpass banana exportation as the country’s highest source of income.

With a $9 million budget, the campaign aims to boost advertising and marketing of the region as well as increase the number visitors to Ecuador and lengthen their stay.

The campaign, which kicked off Oct. 11, also promotes “the four worlds” of the country: the Andes, Amazon, coastal area and Galapagos Islands. Since Ecuador is about the size of Nevada, clients can experience each part of Ecuador in one vacation.

Aimed at U.S. travelers, the new campaign emphasizes how simple and stress-free a trip to Ecuador can be. The recently launched Web site offers sample itineraries and trip-planning tools, plus information about passports, customs, tipping practices, transportation and holidays.

Ecuador-bound travelers should know that the U.S. dollar is the official currency, and the country is about a five-hour flight from Miami or New York.

Once in Ecuador, officials say travel between regions is fast and easy. Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, has built a modern infrastructure, including an international airport, while retaining its historical and cultural charm.

“The Malecon 2000 development was an $80 million project that has transformed the city’s riverside into a magnificent public space,” said Patricio Tamariz Duenas, Ecuador’s minister of tourism.

Officials also want travelers to lengthen their stay by promoting must-see regions beyond the popular Galapagos Islands. The Andes region, for example, includes the country’s capital, Quito. Other tourist draws there include the hot springs, festivals, the archaeological site of Ingapirca and active volcanoes.

For those seeking ecotourism, send them to the Ecuadorian Amazon, but for beach-bound clients especially families the coastal area of Ecuador is a top spot.

Beyond the region’s geographical attributes, the campaign also promotes the country’s hospitality.

“Ecuadorians are honest, warm, and service-oriented people who truly enjoy welcoming foreign visitors to their country,” said Duenas.

To encourage travel agent participation, officials created the Travel Agent Ecuador Specialist program. Offered through the Travel Agent University Web site, agents can receive six credits and are entered to win a trip to Ecuador.