According to two university studies, tourists visiting Cuenca are younger and more European than they were five years ago. One of the studies found that newer expats also reflect the demographic trend.
A study by the University of Cuenca Faculty of Economics shows that tourism numbers continue to rise in Cuenca and the trend is expected to continue. “Even among Ecuadorian tourists, the numbers tell the same story,” says Rodrigo Mendieta, dean of the economics faculty. “Foreign tourism continues to grow at a rate of about 10 percent to 12 percent annually, which is quite impressive.”
Mendieta adds that the pace of tourism may increase further due to recent publicity about Cuenca in the media. “We are winning international awards and will soon be getting additional attention when the tram begins operations next year,” he said. “New tram systems in other cities have proven to be a magnet for tourism.”
The majority of foreign tourists are between the ages of 20 and 35, are unmarried, traveling alone or in couples and have high levels of education, the University of Cuenca study showed. This is change from a survey five years ago, which indicated that most tourists were between the ages of 30 and 55. Foreigners stay for an average of three days and spend $75 per day for hotel and meals, the study said.
Tourists give the the city high approval ratings, with more than 90% saying they would like to return.
A University of Azuay study looked at trends of incoming foreign residents as well as tourists. “We find that both international tourists and new foreign residents are getting younger,” the study, produced by the tourism department, reported. “From 2008 to 2013, incoming foreign residents were primarily retirees from the U.S. and other English-speaking countries. While many of the new foreign residents are still English-speaking retirees, the trend is toward younger people, including families, and non-North Americans.”
The study finds rapid growth in the number of European arrivals, especially French, German, and Scandinavian. “In 2010, there were less than 200 of this group living in Cuenca. In early 2018, there are approximately 1,200 Europeans,” the report said. “This is changing the nature of the expat community.”
The report said the largest group of foreign residents was from the U.S. and Canada, numbering about 6,000. The second largest group was from Colombia, totaling 3,800, followed closely by Venezuelan arrivals, at 3,500.