World Travel Awards will visit the Centro Cultural Itchimbía, in Quito, capital of tourism hotspot Ecuador, for its annual South & Central America Gala Ceremony in August.
Here Breaking Travel News takes a look at latest developments in the region as the industry prepares to gather for one of the biggest nights of the year.
Quito itself has been preparing for its growing role in international tourism, not least with the opening of a new airport.
Inaugurated in early 2013, Quito’s new Mariscal Antonio Jose de Sucre airport is located 20 miles north-west from downtown Quito in the Tababela valley.
Similar to New York’s JFK Airport, Quito’s new international airport has been granted a ‘B’ category by IATA.
To date, the airport’s construction has generated more than $1 billion of economic activity in the local economy.
Estimated to receive an influx of eight million travellers, Quito’s International Airport will feature a 13,451 ft landing strip capable to host bigger capacity airplanes that can handle direct flights to farther destinations from all over the world.
It will eventually be able to welcome 35 million passengers a year, and can accommodate a new Airbus A380 aircraft – the largest commercial plane in the skies.
Stretching over an area of 172 million square feet, featuring a 410,000 square foot passenger terminal and a 1,000 parking area, the new airport was built to provide travellers a comfortable, efficient and seamless travel experience.
In order facilitate access to its new airport and make the city’s transit more fluid, Quito has also built a new freeway named ‘La Ruta Viva’.
The new road is expected to enable travellers to reach downtown Quito from the airport and vice versa within about 30-40 minutes as well as help reduce traffic by 50 per cent in the greater Quito area.
With a total investment of $48 million the entire highway is projected to be completed by the end of this year.
Quito also launched a marketing push in the UK earlier this year.
The destination is competing for the title of South America’s Leading Destination at the event on August 9th.
Panama has also been making the headlines in Central America this year, celebrating the centenary of the Panama Canal; one of the modern wonders of the world.
Anniversary celebrations are due to take place on August 15th, marking the occasion when the SS Ancón crossed the canal for the first time in 1914.
A Centennial Gala will take place in Panama City, a grand artistic, musical, and theatrical production that will be broadcast live on television.
Canal staff will be cast members in the show, retelling the story of the epic construction of the canal and the role it plays in the country today.
Cruising is also big business in Panama, with over 100 ships due in Colón before April 2015. Celebrity Cruises, Holland America, Princess Cruises, and Pullmantur are among the lines due to pull into port, with Lake Gatún in the Panama Canal also on the itinerary.
Last cruise season an average of 45,000 passengers disembarked monthly at the port on the shores of the city of Colón and at Amador on the Pacific entrance to the Canal.
The cruise tourism segment in Panama recorded the arrival of 215,581 passengers, January to May this year, a 5.75 per cent increase on the previous year.
Tourists on these cruises spend an estimated $27 million dollars.
See who is in the running for Panama’s top tourism operators at the upcoming World Travel Awards ceremony here, while the country itself is up for the title of Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination at the event.
Staying with the cruise sector, and Thomson Cruise Ships recently confirmed it will Return to Cartagena in 2014
The announcement was made in London by the cruise line, one of the three most important in the United Kingdom, thus returning to the country after a hiatus of more than three years from the Colombian coast.
This time, the ship will be the Thomson Dream, one of the most high-profile ships of the company.
The ship, which can accommodate 1,506 passengers and 600 crew members, will set sail from Montego Bay in Jamaica, which serves as a boarding port in Latin America for the company, under the Thomson Holidays Group, with operations in the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic and Scandinavian area.
“According to estimates by Thomson Cruises, 99 per cent of passengers will come from Europe.
“This is a market that we have been exploring for the promotion of the cruises sector and on which we will place special emphasis in 2014 to increase the number of international travellers to the country,” said Proexport Colombia president Maria Claudia Lacouture.
Proexport Colombia works together with ship companies to provide information regarding the attractions at national ports, in order to include the same within their itineraries.
Among the most exciting races at the World Travel Awards South & Central America Gala Ceremony this year is that for South America’s Leading Business Travel Destination.
Medellin Convention & Visitors Bureau is in the running for Colombia, with the nominees here.
South America is a rapidly emerging tourism destination
Viva la Mexico
In Mexico, a recent sport from BMI suggests the country’s tourism industry has enormous long-term potential, largely owing to its proximity to the US.
BMI forecasts arrivals growth of 2.1 per cent in 2014, up to 11 million tourists.
This is an increase in the growth rate from 0.04 per cent in 2013, with BMI expecting tourist arrivals growth to remain above two per cent over the rest of the forecast period to 2018.
“We believe that this reflects returning confidence in Mexico’s tourist industry, with arrivals from the US recovering, albeit slowly, and arrivals from Europe also growing steadily,” explained a statement from the company.
In April 2014, President Enrique Peña Nieto presented the 2014-2018 National Plan for Tourism, which we expect to provide valuable support for the industry.
As part of the plan, the president emphasised the importance of improving infrastructure throughout the country and pledged investment of MXN7.7bn in the industry over the next four years.
He also noted the importance of launching regionally specific projects in order to capitalise on the attractions of each area.
In this respect, the president referred to 189 projects currently under way in the south-east of the country, totalling nearly MXN1.25bn.
See which Mexican brands are in the running at the World Travel Awards here.
Finally, in Chine LAN Airlines and its affiliates and TAM Airlines, members of LATAM Airlines Group, have unveiled the new unified design for their cabins.
Two aircraft already feature the new design including a LAN Airbus A320, servicing domestic routes within Chile and a TAM Airbus A321, servicing domestic routes within Brazil.
Moving forward, all of the new Airbus A320 and A321 short-haul aircraft will feature the new cabin interior and seats, giving passengers more space and comfort.
The fabric for the seats in the short-haul cabins was designed incorporating four colours and two different leather textures.
For the new long-haul cabins, the fabric incorporates more cloth elements to create maximum comfort for longer flights.
Beginning in 2015, LATAM Airlines Group will incorporate two new aircraft models into the long-haul fleet with the Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350-900 that will feature the new cabin design and offer two classes of service, Economy and Premium Business
Jerome Cadier, marketing vice president, LATAM Airlines Group, said: “We hope our passengers continue to enjoy the experience of flying with LAN and TAM and that they share the same passion we have for flying.”
LAN Airlines is nominated for the title of South America’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards.
World Travel Awards
Following on from the success of the World Travel Awards South & Central America Gala Ceremony in Peru last year, industry leaders from across the region are expected in Quito for the 2014 show.
Limited tickets for the event are still available, with more information here.