International Business

Ecuador tries mobile ads to boost trade, tourism with Florida

Natalia Cely, Ecuador’s ambassador to the United States, was in Miami this week to promote Ecuadorean trade and tourism.
Natalia Cely, Ecuador’s ambassador to the United States, was in Miami this week to promote Ecuadorean trade and tourism. Courtesy Ecuadorian Embassy

Ecuador has taken a moving approach for the Miami launch of its new tourism and trade campaign, “All you need is Ecuador.”

The skin of Metromover cars that began circulating on the Brickell Loop this week are emblazoned with advertising that reminds commuters that what they need are shrimp, roses and chocolate imported from Ecuador. During the first seven months of 2014, Ecuador’s exports of these three high-flying products recorded double-digit increases

The tourism and trade campaign also will be on display on buses in Washington, D.C., and trains in Chicago, and there are plans to take the rolling advertisements to New York and Los Angeles later.

“We studied trade patterns over the past 10 years, and we see a lot of potential growth in the Miami market,” said Natalie Cely Suárez, Ecuador’s ambassador to the United States.

“All you need is Ecuador” is also doing double-duty as the tagline for the country’s tourism campaign. As part of its tourism promotion, Ecuador plans to launch a series of 30-second spots on U.S. cable networks in November.

The advertisements, which tout the country’s cultural riches as well as its potential for adventure tourism from surfing to white-water kayaking, feature this slogan: “Like nowhere else, all in one place, so close. All you need is Ecuador.”

While U.S. tourism to Latin America fell during the global recession from its peak of more than 3million visitors in 2008, Ecuador managed to hold its own during the difficult period, said Cely. U.S. visitors increased from 244,406 in 2008 to 248,852 last year, the ambassador said. In 2014, a record $2billion was invested in hotels.

Now with the new tourism campaign and investments, Cely said, Ecuador is poised for a record tourism year in 2015. “We believe we have a very unique offering,” she said.

Air connections between Ecuador and South Florida also recently improved. On Oct. 17, TAME, Ecuador’s national flagship airline, launched daily service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Quito. On Nov. 20, TAME will launch thrice-weekly flights between Fort Lauderdale and Guayaquil.

Cely was in South Florida this week to kick off the new Metromover campaign, promote Ecuadorean exports at the Americas Food and Beverage Show and to attend a special gastronomic event, Ecuador Exquisito, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel that featured dishes made with some of her country’s most famous exports. Think shrimp ceviche, meat in chocolate sauce, fresh tuna marinated in peanut sauce and a passion fruit and chocolate dessert.

Last year Ecuador’s exports to the United States grew by 22.07 percent to $11.45billion, and the South American nation is putting a special emphasis on promoting innovative and non-traditional exports.

A dozen Ecuadorean exporters, for example, took part in the Food and Beverage Show, exhibiting everything from new products made with a hot sauce base to quinoa bars — the new granola bar.

Other new products, Cely said, are anti-oxidant rich energy drinks and teas made from the guayusa leaf that are marketed by Runa, an Ecuadorean-U.S. joint venture based in New York.

Ecuadorean exporters of mangoes, golden berries, pitahaya (dragon fruit), papayas and blackberries plan to make a big push into the U.S. market in 2015.

Through August, Ecuador’s trade with the United State rose 2.75 percent over the previous period in 2013, reaching $12.88 billion. U.S. exports to the South American country were up 17.69 percent while products imported from Ecuador fell by 6.47 percent, according to an analysis of U.S. Census statistics by WorldCity, a Coral Gables media and data research company.

The Miami Customs District, which stretches from Palm Beach County to Key West, was the third most important U.S. district for Ecuadorean trade. South Florida-Ecuador trade totaled $2.17billion through August and grew by a brisk 15.88 percent. That meant Ecuador ranked 10th among South Florida trading partners based on the value of exports and imports.

If Ecuadorean petroleum exports are excluded, Florida is Ecuador’s most important U.S. trading partner, according to a trade and tourism report released by Ecuador this week. If oil is added back into the equation, Florida ranks third among U.S. states after California and Texas.

Ecuador’s top exports to Florida are gold, seafood and roses. About 92 percent of all U.S. rose imports from Ecuador enter through Miami, according to the study.

To boost Ecuador’s exports to the U.S., Cely would like to see the reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preferences, which provides preferential duty-free entry into the United States for up to 5,000 products from 122 countries and territories. It expired July 31, 2013, and legislation to extend it is still pending in Congress.

Without the GSP, Cely said that Ecuadorean exports of mangoes and frozen broccoli, for example, are suffering.

“We don’t have a free trade agreement with the United States, so we really hope to see the GSP in place again,” the ambassador said.

When U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson visits Ecuador next week, Cely said, “We hope we can start conversations about returning GSP. Of course, it is in the hands of the U.S. Congress.”