Recognised as a top destination in South America for the MICE tourism sector, Breaking Travel News here chats with Veronica Sevilla, general manager of the Quito Tourism Board, to discover how the city is seeking to adapt to the ever changing demands of discerning consumers.
Breaking Travel News: It has been a year since we last spoke - can you bring us up to date with what has been happening in the Quito tourism sector?
Veronica Sevilla: Quito is on the road to becoming a smart city thanks to its new digital tourist platform that includes Gouio, a free mobile application that is the perfect aid for travellers.
Our tourist-oriented website, which contains all the information that tourists need to know about the city, is also a great resource.
In addition, our promotional video, ‘Your Story Begins in Quito’, which shows the beauty of every corner of the city, was given two international awards in 2018.
All these strategies were driven by the new city brand, which was inspired by the most representative icons of Quito’s identity.
The World Travel Awards also recognised Quito as South America’s Leading Conference & Meetings Destination last year – a tremendous honour.
To sustain momentum from this award, we will welcome the opening of Quito’s Metropolitan Convention Centre at the end of 2018.
This will allow us to promote the city as a main conference, event and convention destination on a national or international scale.
At the same time, Quito has seen a 6.9 per cent increase in the number of foreign visitors in the first half of this year, compared to same period in 2017.
These figures are the result of new strategies employed to promote Quito as a tourist hub worldwide.
BTN: What events do we have to look forward to in the city over the rest of 2018?
VS: In this second half of 2018, the city is getting ready to host national and international tourists with a wide array of events.
One of them is the Summer of the Arts, which takes place until August 5th.
Around 250 musician and artists will be a part of this year’s roster.
Within the framework of the Summer of Arts, The Festival of Lights (Fiesta de la Luz) will be held for the third time in Quito, from August 8th-12th, a unique festival that will cover the facades of the most important buildings in town in lights and colours.
This year, over two million visitors are expected for the four days of the Festival of Lights.
We will also be celebrating the Ecuadorian Independence Day.
On September 8th, Quito will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its UNESCO World Heritage Site declaration, a recognition of its authentic and well preserved historic centre, considered one of the best preserved in the Americas.
The mayor’s office has been working on a plan to preserve and embellish the historic centre to keep the heritage treasures that lie within it, and to inject life to the neighbourhood by prioritising pedestrian traffic.
Also in September, Quito will host Cirque Du Soleil’s Amaluna show, which will be very profitable for the city’s tourist sector.
BTN: Quito International Airport has been doing its part to boost the sector, announcing new flights, including a new departure to São Paulo later this year. How important are connections of this kind to the success of the city as a tourism destination?
VS: In February this year, Quito hosted Routes Americas, the most important air connectivity development event in the Americas, which was attended by more than 600 representatives of the airline industry.
Routes Americas provided Quito with the opportunity to incorporate new air services, and as a result, the Quito-Mexico City route, operated by Aeromexico, was increased from seven to ten weekly flights, and a new Sao Paulo-Quito route, operated by Gol Brazil, was added.
This was a joint effort of Quito’s Municipality, Quito Turismo and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism, together with Corporation Quiport, Quito Mariscal Sucre Airport’s manager company.
The increase of new routes will allow the city to connect more efficiently with other important destinations and markets, which will result in more tourism, business, connectivity and competitiveness, giving these markets the comfort of travelling directly to Quito in an easy way, without long layovers.
This helps tour operators develop interesting tour packages to attract these markets to Quito.
BTN: How about on the hotel side, are there any new properties you are keen to highlight?
VS: Quito has registered 655 establishments that offer accommodation.
New additions in the city centre include Hotel Mama Cuchara by Arthotels, which was an old Spanish-colonial house that has been carefully restored and modernised.
The location of the hotel is convenient, within walking distance to Santo Domingo Square, La Ronda street, and many other historical attractions.
Another hotel in Quito’s centre is Illa Experience Hotel, a historic house that represents the exquisite style of Quito’s early 20th century mansions.
Located in the traditional San Marcos neighbourhood, it offers a unique cultural experience, and is home to artists, writers and musicians.
On the other hand, the Best Western Hotel is located in the north of the city in a commercial and residential area, close to one of the city’s business and financial centres.
There’s also the Wyndham Garden Quito Hotel, which is located in the La Carolina park area, within a short distance to the city’s main attractions, perfect for meetings or events.
BTN: Quito took the title of South America’s Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards last year. How did this help the tourist board put the destination on the map?
VS: Quito has been South America’s Leading Destination for five consecutive years.
These awards give national and international recognition to Quito’s potential as South America’s leisure and business tourist destination.
They recognise both Quito’s tourist attractions, as well as the city’s tourism management efforts.
Thanks to them, Quito has developed a reputation for top tourist destination and therefore, it must meet visitors’ expectations, making a greater commitment to the development of tourism in the city.
Quito is an international destination that has shown an increase in international arrivals during the past years and the first semester of 2018.
Quito is currently in the running for the title of South America’s Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards.
Voting is open until August 5th.
Click here to make your voice heard.