ESTEBAN FIALLO

Ecuador 2020 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Manta's Chamber of Tourism is developing MICE tourism through events and conferences. And with 2,000 four- and five-star beds and sea and air travel accessibility, Manta is sure to figure prominently.

Esteban Fiallo
BIOGRAPHY

Esteban Fiallo started his career as general manager of Constructora EFIAG S.C.C, where he had the opportunity to build several important real estate projects in several cities of the country. Among these projects are the design, planning, and investment of the Hotel Poseidón project in the city of Manta. Fiallo currently manages two companies related to tourism. One is Poseidón Hotel, currently representing one of the best and most prestigious boutique hotels in the city of Manta. He also runs the tour operator Hola Aventura S.A. He has been president of the Chamber of Tourism of Manta since 2016.

Which different stakeholders are working under the Chamber of Tourism of Manta to consolidate tourism in the area?

The chamber is split into four categories: hotels, travel agencies and tourism operators, bars and restaurants, and transportation. The chamber seeks to develop MICE tourism through events and conferences and creating the necessary spaces. Manta receives a good share of tourists coming to the Manabí province, as the city has an airport and a cruise terminal for better connectivity.

Manta is regarded as having great potential to develop tourism. What are its competitive advantages?

We have the right conditions, especially when compared to other coastal cities in the country. We have over 2,000 four- and five-star beds, the best sea and air travel accessibility, and connectivity through roads. A multiplier effect has given us a head start with the diversification of the economy. Complementary tourism services and commercial activity are created around those elements, and that in turn serves as great conditions for more hotels to be built and so on.

How will the opening of the cruise terminal and new airport influence the development of the sector?

We have seen the impact mostly in the number of hotels currently being built to try to get ahead of the expected increase in tourism. Hospitality development is the most important indicator of the sector's growth, as it is the most direct business representing tourism. The more beds there are, the more options there are for people to stay. However, the hotel industry depends on occupation rates being high, so every new hotel serves as an ambassador and a micro marketing agency for the city by investing in promoting tourism into Manta.

Tourism in Manta is also supported by a strong corporate sector. What other activities have potential in Manta?

Our strong logistic sector is one. Over 95% of all imported cars in Ecuador, for example, are imported through our port, which is a key for our economic growth. Trade plays a big supporting role for our exports, and there is great potential for us to be the main port of exports for national products. Currently, 70% of Ecuador's tuna is exported through Manta. All this commercial activity creates business visits that fuel our tourism sector. Along those lines, sport fishing is an activity with enormous potential. Another trend we can jump on is agroindustry tourism. Similar to Colombia's coffee trails, we could develop tours and activities around cacao for people to get close to the production and commercialization of the best chocolate in the world. In general, we need to develop more activities for people to stay in the city. An important measurement in tourism is the length of stay, and there we have a lot of room to grow. People come to Manta for any specific activity like the half Ironman race and then leave. We need to create activities that entice them to stay longer and do more in the city. Our biggest challenge, though, is tourism infrastructure. We are working with the municipality to build roads into our beaches, create bathroom facilities, and connect the city better.

Regarding investments, what makes the sector an attractive option for foreign capital?

Historically, Manta has been an attractive city for foreigners to invest in business around retirees and expats living in Ecuador. Our natural resources and weather conditions are excellent for opening year-round touristic business. The San Francisco University of Quito, the best-ranked in the country, is considering opening a campus in Manta. There are important synergies being strengthened, and the existing commercial offering is ripe for further hospitality developments. Most importantly, there is a significant amount of prime beachfront land eligible for hotel construction.