For the second time in four years, Cuenca has been recognized for having the best drinking water in Latin America. The only difference in the survey conducted in 2008 and the previous survey is that Cuenca stands alone in number one position.

The Hamburg, Germany-based International Drinking Water Council (IDWC) rated Cuenca first and Arequipa, Peru, second in the new survey. The 2004 IDWC survey had Cuenca and Arequipa tied in the top position. The survey, conducted in early 2008, covered cities of more than 10,000 population with municipal drinking water systems.

Survey comments noted that, “Cuenca’s water is better than most water supplies in Europe and North America. We suggest the city’s tap water is better, in fact, than most bottled water available locally.”

The comments add: “Unfortunately, very few of Ecuador’s other cities have followed Cuenca’s example, and most municipal water supplies are substandard.”

TOUR OPERATORS VISIT CITY; SAY MORE TOURISTS ARE ON THE WAY

If you thought Cuenca was crawling with tourists last week, you were right. Many of them weren’t just ordinary tourists, though. They were invited to Cuenca for the purpose of bringing even more tourists to town.

One group included 220 tour agency operators from the U.S., Europe and Latin America, part of delegation sponsored by the U.S. travel firm of William H. Coleman, Inc. The tour was co-sponsored by the Cuenca Board of Tourism and the Ecuador Division of Tourism. In addition to Cuenca, the group also visited Quito and Guayaquil.

In two days, the Coleman group toured Cuenca’s historic churches, museums, public squares and parks as well as attending meetings at several locations in the city.

Peruvian native and Miami tour operator Carol Castaneda voiced an opinion expressed by many of promoters: “I am amazed by the beauty and charm of Cuenca. The architecture is very beautiful, the culture is rich and the climate is fabulous. This is definitely a city we can sell to our clients.”

Los Angeles tour organizer Roger Marston added that Cuenca was a “hidden treasure.”

“I’ve visited the Galapagos, Quito, Manta and Guayaquil several times, but never Cuenca. I’m amazed. Besides the great culture and all the things to do, this is an exceptionally clean and safe city. This is very important for booking tours.”

Photo caption: Recognizable by their Panama hats, international tour operators check out the city.