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Discover Ecuador

Daily Brief – Ecuador promotes Regional Tourism

     Stealing a page from the Samson and Goliath playbook, Ecuador has begun an impressive campaign to bring Brazilian tourism dollars to Ecuador.  The word “chutzpah” comes to mind.  Brazil, an intoxicatingly beautiful nation in its own right, with its own booming tourism trade, may not seem the idea locale for a full-blown “ Discover Ecuador ” tourism blitz.  Not at any time, but certainly not on the eve of Brazil hosting both the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.  However, oddly enough, Ecuador much like Samson, may be onto something, with a trick or two up its sleeve.

For a nation, like Brazil, possessing one of the most renown tourism “hot spots” in Rio de Janeiro, it may be hard to fathom for an outsider, but in the eyes of the local populace, Brazil has always been for Brazilians.  It is one of the reasons starting a business in Brazil is so difficult.  It is one of the reasons why Brazil enjoys one of the strongest extradition laws in the world.  It is one of the reasons why purchasing real estate in Brazil may not be quite on par with the challenges found in places like Thailand or Greece, but it is right up there with one of the most challenging places in the world for a real estate transaction.  Brazilians, filled with pride and rightfully so, see Brazil as their own “private paradise”.

The reason I say the Ecuadorean tourism authorities may be onto something special is because I am viewing the next few years through Brazilian eyes.  Yes, they are used to the throngs of tourists, but 2014-2016 are going to see an onslaught, near of epic invasion proportions.  The world is going to spill, quite literally, into Brazil.  Many of the locales see this as an opportune time to “get out” and view the rest of the world, for at least a while.  A brief respite…escape…from the invasion of World Cup and Olympic tourism.

Combine the aforementioned with the dramatic rise of the Brazilian middle class during the President Lula years and you just may have a nation ready to explode from a burgeoning outward-bound tourism perspective.  The immense success of President Correa, in Ecuador, in creating a middle class, may well have been exceeded, in modern times, only by the success of Lula.  While the Reais (Brazilian currency) has seen a tough time against the USD (Ecuadorean currency) in the last year, the financial wealth explosion under Lula has still generated plenty of excess cash for travel.

Ecuador is wisely tapping into the new found wealth of Brazil, the desire for exploration and, just perhaps, the need to escape the “tourist invasion”.  Ecuador may well be onto something special, with exceptional timing, in promoting itself as a “tourism destination of choice” for Brazilians.  At a recent meeting of tourism operators in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, Vinicio Alvarado, carried a simple message, “We want more Brazilians to visit us [in Ecuador]”.  That simple message belies a much deeper and well organised campaign on the part of Ecuador’s Tourism Minister.

Armed with a relatively immense $660 million budget, over the next 4 years, Minister Alvarado is well prepared to woo the Brazilian tourism market and, for that matter, the global market.  Pushing for greater private sector cooperation, Alvarado is encouraging tourism operators in Ecuador and tourism operators in Brazil to consider more cross-country promotional campaigns, citing various items of commonality, including beautiful beaches, attractive weather and the fact that both serve as stewards of the Amazon Basin.

Speaking on that topic, representatives of Brazil’s private tourism sector noted that the Brazilian market is clamoring for new locales to explore.  Ecuador is considered a new and vibrant market, awaiting such exploration, which fits the mindset of the typical Brazilian tourist.  In fact, the President of one of Brazil’s largest tour operators mentioned that on his most recent visit to Ecuador he was amazed at the nation’s natural beauty and how clean it was. Perhaps more importantly, he threw his support behind a plan for TAME, the major Ecuadorean airline, to expand flights directly into Brazil and from Brazil into Ecuador.  If it occurs, it would be a boon for Brazilian tourism into the Ecuadorean marketplace.

Ecuador’s chutzpah just may pay off yet.  Sight set firmly, Brazil in its cross hairs, a spunky Ecuadorean initiative just may land Goliath.  Only time will tell for certain, but nonetheless, the aggressive initiative and heavily armed new tourism budget, speaks well for Ecuador’s future in the travel industry.  For those of us already living here, we best come terms with the fact that the world truly appears ready to Discover Ecuador.

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