Foreign tourists are staying longer in Cuenca, according to the city’s Municipal Tourism Foundation. A 2010 survey showed the average tourist stay was one day while the latest survey shows stays have increased to three days.
According to Felipe Cardoso, spokesman for the Cuenca Municipal Tourism Foundation, the increase is the result of increased publicity that the city has received in recent years. “This is a city full of tradition and the world is beginning to hear about it,” Cardoso said. “In the last five years, Cuenca has been featured in many magazine and Internet articles and has been the subject of television reports too.”
Cardoso says that this time of year in particular attracts large numbers of tourists. The Pase del Niño festival and parade fills hotel rooms to near capacity during the Christmas season. The Cuenca International Art Bienal, which begins at the end of March, is expected to bring in more visitors.
Andrea Cardenas, GrayLine Tour director, says her company has seen an increase of business from foreigners. Like other tour operators, she says that most of the increase is with Europeans. The number of North Americans appears to be declining, she says.
According to the tourism foundation, the city was visited by 200,000 foreign tourists and 600,000 Ecuadorian tourists in 2013. The numbers are up more than 40% since 2010.
According the local hotel association, the city has 180 hostals and hotels with more than 6,000 beds.
The increase in tourism is one of the reasons, according the association, that several new hotels are under construction or in the planning stages. The largest, a 10-story Sheraton, begins construction near Mall del Rio in February.
Photo captions: Cuenca tourists