After being named as Quito Tourism Board’s new general manager in February, Veronica Sevilla is already in action promoting the city.
“Quito’s wide range of attractions gives us quite a bit of legroom to work with, and is a big reason why we attract such a diverse array of tourists from all over the world,” Sevilla said. “Our city is authentic, with experiences that have been here for hundreds of years combined with a trendy modern style.”
High in the Andes, Ecuador’s capital was built on the foundations of an ancient Incan city. It may be best known for its UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Old Town,” a colonial center packed with 16th- and 17th-century churches and monuments. In addition to offering eco-tourism excursions, religious and adventure activities, it is becoming a gourmet food hot spot thanks to its eclectic mix of cultures.
One of the newest products to be developed is the “Colonial Route,” a tour that includes a visit to Quito and Cuenca as well as the Colombian cities of Cartagena and Bogota, all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The joint initiative aims to promote travel to both South American countries, Sevilla said.
Major international hotel chains are investing in the city as well. Wyndham Hotel Group recently opened the 146-room Grand Condor in the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, part of a larger deal to develop and franchise eight hotels in the country over 10 years. French hotel giant AccorHotels is investing $100 million in the construction of 10 new hotels in Ecuador. And the Hilton San Patricio is slated to open by early 2018.
The tourism board is also promoting Quito as a top international meetings and conventions destination in the region. Its new Bicentennial Convention Center, built across 28 acres, “will allow the city to be one of the most important MICE destinations in Latin America.” Next year, it will host Routes Americas 2018, a conference bringing together over 80 airlines and hundreds of aviation professionals to discuss new market opportunities and services.
For travel agents, who “play a key role when it comes to selling Quito,” the Quinto Tourism Board offers webinar training sessions, in addition to hosting roadshows in several markets. Sevilla suggests dedicating a few days to discover Quito, “the capital of the Middle of the World, with spring weather all year round.”
Sevilla said her first priority on the job, however, is to increase visitor spend. “All the people involved gain from tourism: from the small shop owner that sells traditional sweets, the taxi driver that takes our visitors around our city, to all those who are tipped for providing a service to our tourists at hotels and restaurants; everyone wins.”