With an estimated 250,000 tourists visiting the city over the four-day holiday weekend, Cuenca businesses and tourism officials say the independence holiday was one of the most successful ever.
“It was a very good weekend and it came a good time,” said Juan Pablo Vanegas, president of the Cuenca and Azuay Hotel Association. “We needed a strong recovery from the political events of October so we are pleased with the result,” adding that that the city’s 250 hotels and hostals were near 100 percent occupancy for the holidays.
From October 31 to November 4, Cuenca hosted almost 400 events, according to the Cuenca Chamber of Tourism. In addition to parades, concerts and street performances, there were 30 officially sanctioned crafts and food fairs, with major exhibits in several locations on the Rio Tomebamba and in the historic district.
According to Inter-American Center for Handicrafts and Popular Arts (Cidap) director Fausto Ordóñez, about 2,500 exhibitors and sellers were in town for the holidays.
“There was a high level of concern that tourists would not come because of the protests but the opposite happened,” Vanegas said. “Tourists were more than ready to leave home and to visit major events after days of being unable to travel because of roadblocks. Actually, the holidays came at a very fortunate time.”
Vanegas said the weekend did not make up for losses suffered in the lodging sector in October. “Our members lost millions of dollars during the strike and those loses will never be recovered.”
Cuenca restaurants and tour services also reported high volume during the long weekend. Some El Centro restaurants reported that they were forced to turn customers away.