SUSTAINABLE CULTURAL TOURISM

Ecuador 2019 | CULTURE & TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Cuidad Mitad Del Mundo is Ecuador's Ministry of Tourism's choice as the official image of the country on the international stage.

Giovanny Camacho
BIOGRAPHY
Giovanny Camacho was appointed as general manager of Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo in April 2014 and has been responsible for the park’s professionalization, expansion, and innovation. Previously, he worked as marketing and public relations consultant, both independently and for a company. He has a degree in journalism from Universidad Tecnologica Equinoccal.

What do you envision with Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo?

Our vision is to create another way to develop tourism, which we named cultural tourism. We want to show the cultural and geographical wealth of Ecuador. To that end, we have built a replica of the Cochasquí pyramids around 50km away from Quito. Similarly, we also built ancestral homes that are an example of the richness of the incredible technical knowledge of thermo-adaptable materials. We also have a shaman who can perform traditional cleanings through rituals. All this represents a way to transfer our cultural wealth to the people that visit us. We want people to know that Ecuador is much more than the Galapagos and the mountains. Our strategy has been so successful that we have received a call from a representative of the Ministry of Tourism to notify us that it will use the Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo image at the next tourism fair in London. As a result, we will be the official image of Ecuador.

Where do your visitors primarily come from?

Colombian, American, and European tourists form the majority, representing 35%, 20%, and 20%, respectively. Moreover, we have a great exchange with Asia and China as the Chinese ambassador recently signed a working agreement with Ecuador. Therefore, in the coming years, we will witness a significant increase in tourism from that part of the world. At the end of the day, everything depends on Ecuador's tourism policies. We want our visitors to be relaxed and feel free to walk around without forming long lines. We do not want to fall into a mechanic of excessive consumption. We have to measure our growth because if we grow disproportionately, customer service and the quality of our experiences will fall.

What impact will the new investment law have on the tourism sector?

We are a public company, with ownership divided between the province of Pichincha and the Ministry of Tourism. The minister has an elect, and this entity regulates the policies that we fulfill. When I was presented with the project, I made it clear that, despite being a public project, I had a private vision to make it grow. This does not mean that we are not willing to work in cooperation with the public sector or the ministry. There was no adequate legislation for pricing seven years ago, and foreign tourists paid a different rate than national tourists. However, with the arrival of the new president, prices have been standardized. We have to work with national tourism policies and work on promotion not only internally but also with the strategies of the Ministry of Tourism.

Ecuador is strong in eco-tourism. How do you implement green solutions in your park?

We are a 100% green company and the first pet-friendly tourist attraction and company in Ecuador. Many of our workers come to work with their pets. In fact, we rescue stray animals, which is part of our attraction. We are in the process of eliminating single-use plastics in the company and recently eliminated the use of straws. We have a plan to build a recycling factory-museum so that our visitors can learn about our process of recycling all the plastic we discard. At the financial level, it is an opportunity to save costs in the long term. Regarding the economic aspect, we have had a sustained annual growth of 8%. With the economic reality of the country and our ability to receive tourists, we can maintain a similar growth for the next few years without losing the original line that prioritizes customer service.

What are your plans for the coming years?

We want to acquire land around our complex. We are in a desert zone, and we are exploring the possibility of expanding. We want to build a life-sized pyramid, and if we can acquire the land next to us, it will be possible. The one we recently built was on a 1:12 scale, while the new project would be a real-scale pyramid.