Wednesday, April 2, 2014
All You Need is Ecuador... in London
By Russell Maddicks
A towering letter E decorated with large photos of tropical birds created quite a stir in London's bustling Victoria train station on 1 April. Standing in the centre of the busy concourse, it was hard to avoid the large letter, which easily attracted the attention of the rail and tube passengers scurrying past.
On closer examination, it was clear the letter was also decorated with information linked to Ecuador's latest tourism campaign, encapsulated in the hashtag #AllYouNeedIsEcuador and the slogan: "Like nowhere else. All in one place. So close. Galapagos, Pacific Coast, Andes, Amazon".
On hand to answer questions about the campaign, give tourism advice, and dish out Ecuadorian chocolates and roses was Magaly, a young Ecuadorian studying at university in London.
Magaly explained that one of the focuses of the London campaign is to draw attention to the incredible birdwatching opportunities in Ecuador, which has some 1,630 species of birds, including 132 species of hummingbirds (a world record), and birdwatching opportunities in the Amazonian jungle, the Andes, the cloudforests of Mindo, and the islands of the Galapagos.
When I arrived, Magaly was wearing a crochet mask of Diablo Huma, a popular figure from the annual Inti Raymi (Sun God) festival in Otavalo.
Inti Raymi dates back to the time when the Incas briefly ruled Ecuador, and is just one of a hundred folk festivals celebrated around the country.
As Magaly pointed out: "Ecuador is not just a mega-diverse country in terms of its geography and ecology, with Andes mountains, snow-capped volcanoes, Pacific coast, Amazon jungle and the Galapagos Islands. We are also a mega-diverse people with a long history and culture, which is reflected in our music, our festivals and our food."
Tourism has been booming for Ecuador in the last few years, reaching a record 1.3 million tourist arrivals in 2013 and a forecast of 1.5 million for 2014.
The global #AllYouNeedIsEcuador promotion campaign has cost about $18 million, including $1.3 million to acquire the rights to use the classic Beatle's song "All You Need Is Love" in the videos that accompany the campaign.
The E will be in Victoria for a week or so, and is just one of the 19 letters that spell out All You Need Is Ecuador that have been positioned in 12 capital cities around the world and in seven Ecuadorian cities. (See full details and video here)
If you're in the vicinity of Victoria station this week, pop in and say hello. You might get a pink or yellow rose, or a small bar of single-origin dark chocolate made by Republica del Cacao.
For more information about visiting Ecuador and inspiring photographs and videos of the country visit http://allyouneedisecuador.travel/en