CITY TO SEE

Ecuador 2013 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Luz Elena Coloma, General Manager of Quito Turismo, on the evolution of the city as a tourism destination.

Luz Elena Coloma
BIOGRAPHY
From April 2006 to 2010 Luz Elena Coloma was Director of Corporate Relations & Communications at Metropolitan Touring, and went on to become PR Coordinator at the Yasuní-ITT Initiative. In October 2010 she became General Manager of the public company Quito Turismo. She went to the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador and graduated in Sociology in 1986, later gaining a Master’s from the Universidad de las Américas in Decentralization and Local Development.

Quito was named one of the top-20 destinations in 2013. How has the tourism industry evolved in the city?

Overall, it has been a positive and successful evolution. Around 11 years ago, when the Metropolitan Corporation of Tourism was established, we saw a significant change in terms of promotion and priorities in the sector, as there was no such municipal/city organization. The city's institution gave a boost to both private and public engagement in terms of tourism, and today we have a public office in charge of promoting Quito as a tourism destination, coordinating everyone's efforts toward the same goal. In this context, the tourism sector was named back in 2011 as a strategic sector for the development of the city's economy: La Mariscal, La Floresta, and the city's historic center were labeled as key areas. Such a move is a clear sign of the evolution of the tourism industry in Quito, because it implies common efforts led by local authorities through public policies and city laws. In terms of numbers, in 2012 Quito received 570,000 visitors, which is the highest figure of the last decade and represented 7% growth as compared to 2011. Also, this figure puts Quito above average world growth in terms of tourism. In addition, internationally recognized media and publications, such as National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and tripadvisor.com, named Quito as one of the top tourism destinations both in 2012 and 2013. I would also like to mention that The New York Times included Quito in the list of the 1,000 places to see before dying. These recognitions emphasize the good work done by Quito's Municipality authorities and also the private sector to boost tourism in Ecuador's capital city, while making sure that visitors feel at home when visiting the city.

What are the main strategic plans to continue promoting Quito as a tourism destination in 2013?

Quito will be hosting the TravelMart Latin America in 2013. It is a very specialized event within the tourism industry where tour operators, countries, and other agents from the entire region gather together to share their experiences and offerings. TravelMart Latin America will be happening from September 18-20, 2013. Quito will also be hosting the 4th Iberoamerican Meeting of Digital Cities. These are just two of the main events to happen in Quito in 2013. Our main goal for the next few years is to consolidate Quito's position in the US market as an attractive tourism destination. Also, we will increase efforts toward promoting the city in South America, with special attention to Brazil and Argentina, as well as some European markets. Additionally, we are implementing a very ambitious strategy in terms of press and leisure trips. We invite specialized press from different countries to come to Quito and find out more about the city. In 2012, we organized 46 press and leisure trips with 150 journalists. The media value of what these professionals published after the visit was worth $6 million. Also, we will increase efforts toward MICE tourism; Quito's old airport will become a MICE center. I think Quito has a huge potential to become a regional hub, a door to South America, and also become a regional reference point within the MICE industry. Finally, all the ongoing infrastructure projects such as the new airport and the future Quito metro, among others, will be a major push for the development of the tourism industry in the city. We hope to close 2013 with a growth rate of around 5% to 7%, driven mostly by events like TravelMart Latin America 2013.

Where are travelers coming from, and what is the average expenditure of travelers visiting Quito?

According to our reports, we calculated around a $500 daily expenditure for an average stay of seven to eight days. In terms of country of origin, 27% of our visitors are from the US, followed by Colombia, 12%; Spain, 7% (mostly linked to returnees); Venezuela, 5%; and the rest is divided among many other countries. In this regard, Brazil and other countries from the Southern Cone are gaining relevance, and that is why we are increasingly focusing our promotional efforts on these markets.

“ In 2012, Quito received 570,000 visitors, which is the highest figure of the last decade. "