The circuits of rural tourism with close to major destinations cities make the first bet of the Ministry of Tourism to reactivate the sector after the impact which caused the arrival of the covid-19 to the country and affected an industry that in 2019 generated more than USD 1.8 billion in foreign currency, according to the Pichincha Chamber of Tourism (Captur).
Sebastián Meléndrez, Undersecretary of Management and Development of the Ministry of Tourism, explains that the plan is designed in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. At the moment they are in the phase of creating biosecurity circuits and protocols . In its first stage, the project will be carried out in agrotourism farms that are two hours away from the cities that send tourists, such as Quito or Cuenca.
“The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) designated 2020 as the year of Tourism and Rural Development to raise awareness about the importance of defending, protecting and developing rural areas and raising the level of well – being of the people who live in them,” Explain.
Meléndrez adds that the MinTur contemplates a territorial tourism development agenda that has prioritized projects such as Pueblos Mágicos, tourism products financed through a Development Bank credit line for USD 30 million , and the Ecuador Vivencial program . The latter focuses on agrotourism , community and rural tourism .
This agrotourism strategy is planned to start between the third and fourth quarters of 2020. The plan will lay the foundations for international tourism that they hope to activate in 2021. “At this time, funding is sought to acquire masks, suits, optical pyrometers s that measure body temperature and train personnel ”, explains Meléndrez. He adds that the circuits will point to experiences and accommodation.
The project has the support of the German International Cooperation to establish biosafety protocols . They manage with the National Corporation for Popular and Solidarity Finance (Conafips) a financing line that goes between USD 5 and 10 million through the qualified Savings and Credit Cooperatives .
Not only Ecuador will bet on rurality. This will be a regional strategy . Alejandro Varela , Deputy Regional Director for the Americas of the UNWTO, has held meetings with representatives of the different tourism offices in Latin America to recommend the importance of nature and rural tourism as the first alternative to reactivate the sector.
In this regard, Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary General, said last year that “if we are serious tourism that drives growth and development, we must look outside our cities and work together to help even the smallest community .”