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 December 21, 2015
Quito, Ecuador Ends A Year Full of Successes and Recognitions

 Quito ends a year full of successes and recognitions, and looks forward to an excellent future. The capital of Ecuador was, among other achievements, named South America's Leading Destination 2015 by the World Travel Awards and travel guide Lonely Planet ranked it second in its list of 10 cities to visit in 2016. At the same time, the Andean city took significant steps forward in 2015 in regard to the MICE segment and also strongly improved and broadened its tourist offers. An increase in foreign tourist arrivals is proof of the excellent tourist experience in Quito and also bodes well for the city's ongoing tourism development.

Quito was named South America's Leading Destination for third year in a row by the World Travel Awards, widely regarded as "the Oscars for the travel industry." This achievement gives Quito a strong international exposure and helps to raise the number of tourist arrivals.

Furthermore, the city's International Mariscal Sucre Airport was named South America's Leading Airport 2015 in the World Travel Awards due to its functionalities and improved services. This puts the airport in a good position and makes Quito a preferential international destination. Meanwhile, in August the Annual Worldwide Assembly of the Airports Council International (ACI) decided to award the airport its "Huella de Carbono" ("Carbon Footprint") accreditation in recognition of its efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. Only four airports in Latin America and the Caribbean boast this important environmental recognition.

In addition to its excellent second-place finish in the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2015 top 10 list, Quito won a spot on travel website TripAdvisor's 2015 Travelers' Choice list, an important recognition from travelers themselves. Less than 1% of cities considered receive this special mention.

Likewise, city visitor bureau Quito Turismo was awarded the "Marca Q" insignia by Ecuador's Ministry of Tourism in 2015, in recognition of all its hard work to strengthen Quito's tourist services to the fullest capacity. One procedure being implemented by Quito Turismo is the improvement of tourist institutions and the construction of safe and clean venues that include disabled-friendly facilities, among other requirements focused on offering tourists excellent service. To wit, the first Tourist Security and Safety Center was opened last spring. There, claims and complaints can be submitted in various languages (Spanish, English, German, Portuguese and French), with cases then followed and supported.

Quito Tourism Board not only promotes Quito's architectural and cultural heritage but also the gastronomic traditions that have positioned the city as a culinary destination. Chefs, cooks, researchers, private companies and public institutions have joined to preserve Ecuador's history and together promote this new tourist attraction worldwide. Meanwhile, religious tourism is becoming more popular in Quito, to the extent that its annual Holy Week commemorations each spring are one of the most visited events of the year within all of Latin America.

A standout among the tourism products that Quito has been developing is the new "Bucket Pass." This pass gives visitors access to five tourist attractions in the city --- Quito Tour Bus, Middle of the World, La Compañia cathedral, Chapel of Man and the City Museum --- at one small price and offers online access and flexibility of use.

Apart from tourism, Quito is also keeping its strong commitment to becoming one of the most competitive destinations in the MICE segment. For that reason, the capital hosted its first Meeting Industry Conference in September. Meanwhile, by the end of 2016 the city will have a new world-class Conference Center, to be located at the site of the old city airport. This venue will improve Quito's international competitiveness by providing a modern and efficient infrastructure that positions the city as one of the leading destinations for events, conferences and local conventions. Thanks to all these efforts, Quito has been chosen to host several important international events in 2016 and 2017. There are 20 confirmations so far, among which the Summit of Latin American and Caribbean Presidents, the VII Latin American Congress on Tourism and Habitat III are the most prestigious.

Additionally, Quito hosted the 2015 Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference, at which 500 experts from 30 countries discussed the role of tourism in the construction of a sustainable future.

International promotion of the capital of Ecuador as a tourist destination is a big commitment, and the efforts show in the results obtained. This is why Quito has been visited by 526,211 foreign tourists from January to September 2015, comprising 48% of all arrivals in Ecuador, meaning that Quito is the country's most popular destination. A total of 740,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Quito by the end of the year, which shows an increase of 5% compared to 2014. This is another sign of Quito's progress. If this upward trend keeps going, Quito is likely to receive more than 1 million visitors in 2019.