DOHA, Qatar – Ecuador and Qatar are to work together on tourism and investment projects, Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism Freddy Ehlers announced in Doha yesterday.
“We have presented 17 proposals to the Qatari authorities for developing various tourism projects in Ecuador, in areas including hospitality and aviation,” he explained.
A delegation led by Minister Ehlers concluded yesterday a six-day visit, in response to an invitation from HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who paid an official visit to Ecuador in February.
“In a few weeks Ecuador will receive a very important delegation from Qatar and the officials are to explore the potential of the proposals we have presented,” Minister Ehlers said.
“Discussions held with Qatar Civil Aviation Authority chairman Abdul Aziz Mohamed al-Noaimi focused on the possibility of launching an inter-line alliance that would facilitate a new travel option between Qatar and Ecuador,” he said.
The proposal is to enable a link between Qatar Airways and TAME, a national airline of Ecuador. Qatar Airways is now flying from Doha to Sao Paulo in Brazil, whereas TAME flies from multiple cities in Ecuador to Sao Paulo.
Among the proposals are those to build hotels, tourist resorts, spas and a joint venture for a scenic train route in Ecuador, famed for its geographical, biological and cultural diversity.
“Ecuador has about 800 locations with natural volcanic hot springs, some of which having a temperature of up to 70C,” Minister Ehlers pointed out.
Ecuador, which lies on the Andean volcanic belt, spanning the entire western coast of South America, curving over into Venezuela, is also home to the tallest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi (19,350ft).
“We came to see the development of tourism in Qatar and we are now waiting for the Qatari delegation’s visit to Ecuador,” said the former television journalist with over 30 years of experience in the field of communication and credited with promoting ‘Responsible Tourism.’
During a visit to the Education City, Minister Ehlers had expressed hopes to work with Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development in building a university city in Ecuador.
“Qatar and Ecuador are trying to discover projects of mutual interest and to form a close partnership. Like Qatar Foundation, we have a plan to build a university city, the Yachay City of Knowledge, for academics and researchers to gather in one place,” he said.
During a meeting with Qatar Foundation president Dr Fathy Saoud the other day, Minister Ehlers also discussed the possibility of instituting scholarships for Qatari students to study in Ecuador and Ecuadorian students to study in Qatar.
“We hope that the Ecuadorian Minister of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation will visit Qatar very soon to sign some agreements regarding the partnership for the Yachay City of Knowledge,” Minister Ehlers said.
The Ecuadorian delegation discussed with Qatar Tourism Authority chairman Issa al-Mohannadi the possibility of entering into an agreement to develop tourism without losing heritage.
“Qatar and Ecuador are walking on the same path, to promote the original culture and heritage, while embracing modernity,” Minister Ehlers observed.
Ecuador, one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world, is described as a leader of sustainable tourism in Latin America. The megadiverse countries harbour the majority of the Earth’s species and are considered extremely biodiverse.
Wooing Gulf tourists
Qatar could be a regional hub for South America-bound tourists, Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism Freddy Ehlers has suggested. “We hope to promote tourism from the Gulf to Ecuador, a unique country located at zero latitude,” he said in Doha. “Ecuador has everything that Latin America has to offer,” Minister Ehlers said while explaining that the country is united into four distinct regions, where four seasons can occur in a single day.