Quito is the capital of the Center of the World and a city where you can experience all four seasons on the same day. Its landscapes are framed by the majestic Andes, the magical Chocó cloud forest, the art jewels from the Colonial Period and the exotic gastronomy. Quito Meetings & Incentives is the organization under the tourism body, that fosters MICE in the Ecuador’s largest city with the mission to strengthen and promoting the city as the perfect destination to carry out events, conventions, congresses and incentive travel in the profissional, cultural and educational areas. Positioned on a flank that leaves no room for mistake as far as the pandemic is concerned, we spoke with the bureau director, Norma Bock, about industry activity in the South American capital.
1) How is your destination containing this whole situation in order to get back on track? What are the main measures on the table?
During lockdown, Quito Tourism Board has been working hard on re-designing the promotion strategy of the city as a MICE destination, in having the tourism industry updated with the latest news, developing online tools and creating the biosafety protocols for all tourism – related businesses. Quito Tourism Board has also hosted web seminars during the “MICE week” to promote the city of Quito as the ideal destination for conventions and events. The city is also now a member of Destinations International, hoping this membership will help elevate the potential of the city to host and manage events. In a coordinated initiative with the key actors of the tourism industry of Quito, we have designed a recovery plan with actions and strategies to comply with during the following months.
2) What has been the impact for your customers and partners, such as hotels, venues or restaurants, as far as you can tell?
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented crisis in the tourism industry of Ecuador. Tourism is the third source of non-oil revenues and generates around 470,000 jobs in Ecuador and 43,000 jobs in Quito. According to the Internal Revenue Service of Ecuador (Servicio de Rentas Internas del Ecuador – SRI), the country has lost over 499 million dollars of revenue between the months of March and June. The tourism was the worst affected due travel restrictions and will be one of the last industries to reactivate and recover. Quito Tourism Board considers this crisis as an opportunity to renew ourselves and build a better and more sustainable city.
3) What will be your top priority when resuming activities? What are the main targets?
In a coordinated initiative with all stakeholders of the tourism industry of Quito, we have designed a recovery plan with different actions and strategies. The following is a summary of the most important points of our recovery plan: implementation of strict biosafety protocols for safe travels; trainings on how to approach the “new normal” and the latest news to all tourism; restore the traveler´s confidence in our primary markets; Stimulate the domestic and international tourism with promotional campaigns; promote innovation and digital technologies; collaboration and interaction between all tourism.
4) How concerned are you about the crisis in international aviation and the volume of air routes to Ecuador?
The Mariscal Sucre International airport has remained open and operational 24 hours a day to serve cargo and repatriation flight under strict biosafety protocols and is the first airport of South America to obtain the Airport Health Accreditation granted by the Airports Council International. With the gradual lifting of the travel restrictions throughout different countries we hope an increase in the arrival of international tourist to Quito. Our city is open and ready to welcome all visitors under strict sanitation and safety protocols. The international airlines currently flying to Quito are Iberia, Air Europa, Plus Ultra, Aeromexico, United Airlines, American Airlines, with several flights per week, in addition to the domestic flights.
5) How do you see the future of events in Quito after this pandemic, especially with the advent of virtual events and hybrid meetings?
Quito Tourism Board has been in contact with meeting planners and stakeholders of the industry to ensure our support once the industry is back. According to a survey we have made with the different Professional Associations, the results show that in the new normal, the virtual and hybrid events are the immediate future of the industry opposed to the mass gatherings that were so popular before the Coronavirus pandemic. We think live events, but in a smaller scale, will be back but not any time soon.
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Caption: Norma Bock
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