EspañolThe popular song, “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles, has been chosen to be part of the new tourism promotion campaign in Ecuador. After its official launch on Thursday, March 27, the South American country is now betting it all on its new brand, “All You Need is Ecuador.” The first video in a series of advertising spots soon to launch showcases tourist destinations in the Costa, Sierra, Oriente, and Insular regions.
Ecuador has already made some important gains in its tourism industry recently. The capital city of Quito received the top prize in the World Travel Awards, and was recommended by the New York Times as one of its “52 Places to Go in 2014.” USA Today Travel chose the Galapagos Islands as its number one place to visit, and Cuenca was recognized as “the best city in the world to retire” by International Living.
This is also not the first time that Ecuador has launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to sell its tourist attractions. Both the 2010 campaign, branded “Ecuador Loves Life,” and now “All You Need” demonstrate the strong push by the government to convert tourism into a principal source of revenue for the state. Perhaps, for the first time, President Rafael Correa has realized that oil, the country’s current main source of income, will not last forever, and is attempting to use tourism as a way to diversify the economy.
A “Brand” New Country
Ecuador’s government paid US$1.3 million for the rights to use the famous song by the British band, and those promoting the scheme estimate that the total value of investment through 2017 will amount to US$620 million. As part of this costly strategy — paid for by the taxpayer — the slogan will be displayed strategically in places throughout America and Europe, and in cities within Ecuador itself.
This campaign has raised tourism expectations and is widely predicted to be a success. Ecuadorians enthusiastically support this effort, causing #AllYouNeedIs and #AllYouNeedIsEcuador to trend on Twitter since the launch of the international campaign on April 1.
While it appears that Ecuador has begun to realize the importance of tourism, an industry that as long been neglected, this effort must go beyond positioning a country brand. It should entail both the government and private citizens striving to compete and provide tourists with what they seek: security, quality service, human dignity, and — why not — even an environment attractive to foreign investment.
Who Really Needs Love?
While the government proposes to turn the country into a major tourism destination that opens its doors to multicultural diversity, it should be consistent in its actions. The government’s ad campaign sings a tune based on love, but Correa lays out a discourse founded on antagonism, while insulting his opponents and classifying all dissent as treason. What good is it to promote tourism to the outside world without first advancing the rule of law, our democracy, and the guarantee of individual liberty for Ecuadorians themselves?
In this context, the ad campaign appears to not only be geared towards boosting tourism, but also to countering the bad publicity the country has received during Correa’s tenure. There was little talk of Ecuador until the country began receiving international press recently, and not in a good way. Problems such as an authoritatarian president, the persecution of media outlets, and support for totalitarian regimes have demonstrated to the world an image of government that — far from “loving” — maintains control through fear.
The most difficult task for Ecuador will not be to reach the world with its international campaign, but to counter the bad public image that this government has wrought. We know Correa has always shown pride in his own actions, so we can hardly expect any change in his attitude. On the contrary, it is the Ecuadorian people who must demonstrate that we do not share the oppressive nature of Correa. Perhaps it is our president who, in fact, “only needs love.”