In 2019, Ecuador was unable to sustain the high double-digit growth in inbound arrivals that it experienced in 2018 as tourism flows continued to recover from the effect of external factors such as the 2016 earthquake, the threat of the Cotopaxi Volcano, and a Zika outbreak. Although arrivals from three of the country’s largest source markets – Colombia, the US and Peru – increased over the year, arrivals from its largest market, Venezuela, declined by double digits as citizens fleeing that country headed in larger numbers to Colombia, Peru and Chile.
Travellers worldwide have become more self-sufficient and knowledgeable due to the increased use of technology. For Ecuador, this has translated to continuous growth in online sales – both direct and through travel intermediaries – and services such as Airbnb and car rental.
New hotels and short-term rentals keep opening up in Ecuador, resulting in a high supply of hotels and low demand. Lower demand for hotels of all kinds can be attributed to the expansion of short-term rentals such as Airbnb and to the widening base of residents offering overnight accommodations to travellers seeking to enjoy Ecuador’s unique brand of “community tourism”.
Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism described the 3-point action plan it adopted towards the end of the review period as one centred on three pillars of tourism development. The first, “Pacific Riviera”, is similar to the “Mayan Riviera” in Mexico, whereby the objective is to promote Ecuadorian beaches, towns and foods located along the coast.
Over the forecast period, the Galápagos national park is expected to continue generating the most visits from international travellers, as the biologically diverse islands are not only wildly attractive, but also so widely known. The Ecuadorian government, travel authorities and other stakeholders do not need to invest significant resources to generate more interest in visiting there.
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