Ecuador and Cuenca continue to strengthen their respective reputations as top destinations for international tourists and expatriates.
Lonely Planet, publisher of the world’s best selling travel guide, has named Ecuador number four in its 2013 “Best in Travel” category. Lonely Planet sites Ecuador’s efforts to improve infrastructure and its commitment to maintaining a healthy environment as reasons for the selection. The company website includes a picture of Cuenca's cathedral in its website description. (See http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/best-in-travel-2013/top-10-countries/#ixzz2Hd5jvc00).
International Living, a magazine and Internet service aimed at prospective expats, last week named Ecuador the world’s top country for retirees for the fifth consecutive year. The editors cited the country’s low cost of living and high quality of life as the reason it edged out number two Panama. “I think the combination of a welcoming culture, the great weather, the affordability and its proximity to the United States all go together to make it a good package,” said Dan Prescher, an International Living editor.
In addition to the country wide top ranking, International Living has ranked Cuenca as the number one retirement city in the world.
A rival to International Living, Live and Invest Oversease, has also given Cuenca top honors as the world’s best low cost retirement destination. Live and Invest, managed by author and former International Living publisher Kathleen Peddicord, is hosting its first Ecuador conference in Quito, in February.
In another honor, Cuenca advanced to the second round of the New Seven Wonders of the World Cities contest. The Seven Wonders selections are based on a popular vote and include natural attractions as well as cities. Daniel Hernandez, president of the Hotel Association of Azuay and officials with local tourism offices are urging Cuencanos and expats to vote for Cuenca. In addition to Cuenca, Quito is also vying for a spot among the top cities. To vote, go to the contest website, http://www.n7w.com. The top 28 cities selected in the voting will be announced March 7 and will advance to the final round.
Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Tourism, Luis Falconi, reported Monday that tourism has increased 51% since 2006, the year Rafael Correa was elected president. Falconi, who also reported a 12% increase in visitors in 2012 over 2011, credits Correa with increasing emphasis and funding for tourism.
According to the Tourism Ministry, Colombia topped the list of countries providing visitors to Ecuador in 2012 with 349,000, followed by the U.S. with 248,000. Peru, Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuala were also in the top ten.