Guayaquil is located between two rivers, or more accurately between one river, the Guayas, and an estuary, the Salado, which means the sea pours into the city from all corners creating a port atmosphere that has historically been channeled into the transport of goods, especially cocoa, bananas and seafood. This activity has helped Guayaquil become the economic capital of Ecuador that it is today, and allowed it to support a population of more than 3 million people between the city and its outlying districts.
At the turn of the new century, Guayaquil started to plan for the future and began planning projects that have now been carried out, such as the opening up of the city to the sea. Apart from the obvious traits of a maritime and port city, the place has many other sides to it, such as its cultural, social, architectural, religious and sporting activities that are the fruits of the work of its people. Recently the city also decided to change the direction of its international image and specifically make a big effort with tourism.
Historically, Guayaquil has long been known as the “Pearl of the Pacific” due to visitors approaching from the River Guayas or the Salado Estuary always being under the impression that the place shone brightly thanks to the thousands of candlesticks that were used to light the city. However, in more modern times and with new ways of approaching the city by plane, train or bus, that moniker has become a bit outdated. For that reason, Joseph Garzozi, Guayaquil’s Tourism Director, decided give the city a new identity more in line with a modern and dynamic character, and the strapline “The magic of the South Pacific” was conceived.
This new identity opens up a new direction, away from treasures, riches, business and goods. It is more closely linked to a sense of intuition, and the search and discovery of the unexpected – something that is valued highly by tourists who are more than used to travelling to destinations that are heavily marketed. The unknown aspect of what you can expect here makes it almost mystical, an emotion that can be captured perfectly from a trip to the Galapagos Islands, from which Guayaquil is the perfect departure point.
However, if only one thing sums up a city that has a dual character, located between mountain and sea and surrounded by water, it is Guayaquil’s strong history of trade, which reaches its crescendo in the port activity that is the city’s heartbeat. Guayaquil is considered Ecuador’s economic engine and Mayor Jaime Nebot Saadi has left no stone unturned in the efforts to take full advantage of this and improve the quality of life of the 2.6 million people that live in its urban area. These efforts to boost tourism have earned the Mayor a lot of international recognition as he turned the city into a worldwide reference in tourism, which recently earned him an award from the North American Academy for Hostelry and Accommodation.