Ecuador has insisted it is “working very hard” to attract tourists back following a period of political unrest in the country, estimated to have cost the country’s tourism sector about $5 million a day.
The South American nation endured nearly two weeks of protests over a disputed austerity package in October, which saw a number of citizens killed in violent clashes.
Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, recently struck a deal with indigenous leaders to end the tensions – centred around the proposed axing of fuel subsidies – with both sides developing a new government spending programme.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned its nationals against all but essential travel for 10 days during the protests earlier this month, later relaxing its advice as trouble subsided.
Speaking to TTG at WTM London, Patricia Palacios De Naranjo, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism’s undersecretary of markets, investment and international relations, said the destination was looking to bounce back after tourists in key western markets such as the US and UK cancelled upcoming trips.
Naranjo said: “We are trying all we can to get the message out there that we are now unified, back up and running and things have returned to normal.
“There was a high percentage of cancellations in recent weeks, and I believe it will take a few
months for us to return to our usual levels, but we will get there.”
Naranjo insisted Ecuador was still “in good shape” to surpass its 2018 international visitor record of 1.5 million (excluding Venezuelan visitors).
The destination has been aided this year with a flurry of new airlift including Air France’s Paris-Quito non-stop service, which launched on 27 October, and the upcoming addition of Air Canada Rouge’s route from Toronto to its capital, beginning on 27 December.
Naranjo said she believed the Ministry of Tourism would see its 2020 budget increased when government spending was published later this month, and revealed it would also focus on more sustainable and inclusive tourism programmes.