Spain is currently Ecuador’s fourth most important source of tourism visitors, with a sustained annual growth of approximately 5%, during the last three years. For this reason, the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador; the National Tourism Promotion Fund and the private sector are developing new strategies in order to enhance this trend and thus, to motivate a substantial increase in the flow of Spanish tourists into Ecuador.

Within this frame, Ecuador and Spain signed a memorandum of understanding to expand and upgrade the tourism cooperation in order to increment the flow of tourists between the two nations. The document, which provides guidelines and actions for the next five years, was signed in Quito, Ecuador’s historic capital city, on the 8th of June, between Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, Freddy Ehlers and his visiting Spanish counterpart, Secretary of Tourism, Joan Mesquida. The memorandum includes subjects such as exchange of information on sustainable development technology innovation; tourism statistics; marketing experiences; use of social networks; personnel training and specific promotional actions to attract visitors.

Some of the proposed promotional activities include a “Week of Ecuador” in Spain, featuring cultural and artistic displays; gastronomic festivals; professional Workshops about the “Destination Ecuador”; billboards; seminars; specialized talks and a host of events meant to capture the public and the media’s attention and to put Ecuador under the spotlight, and consequently to rise the interest in visiting the country. According to the Spanish Secretary of Tourism, “Spain is making strong efforts to be a world leader in sustainable development”. Meanwhile, Ecuador has been recognized as a leading country in South America, with pioneer examples and models of sustainable tourism development, particularly on ecologically sensitive and protected areas. Furthermore, one of Ecuador’s highlights is its mega-biodiversity, on its small territory, which makes the country “an attractive destination for the Spanish tourists”, in the words of the Spanish Secretary of Tourism.

During the same day, Spanish experts conducted a Seminar on Public Policies and Marketing Strategies, which was attended by a large audience of public and private sector tourism professionals, officials and entrepreneurs, avid to hear the first hand experiences of the Spanish professionals, moreover, considering that Spain is recognized as a “tourism power” in Europe and at world level. The Ecuadorian Minister of Tourism thanked Spain for providing and sharing “their technical support, knowledge and experience” and remarked on the importance that the Government of Ecuador assigns to the tourism activities, “as a fundamental source of revenue for the national economy”

To nicely top a day of enticed cooperation spirits to boost tourism between Ecuador and Spain, the Spanish airline Iberia, hosted a solemn ceremony to baptize one of its new Airbus A340-300 aircraft with the name “Galapagos”. The intercontinental jetliner touched ground at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport in the afternoon and was welcomed with the traditional arches of water to salute its arrival. The modern airplane will carry from now on the name of Ecuador’s most emblematic tourism attraction, “Galapagos”, across the skies of the world, reminding the earths’ voyagers the importance of the unique and inspiring Ecuadorian Isles, the planet’s first UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, Biosphere Reserve and one of the world’s premiere nature-tourism destinations.