Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Wed April 15 2015

Ecuador Tourism Ministry Tricks Tourists, Pretends to Be Costa Rica

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | April 15, 2015

Ecuador Tourism Ministry Tricks Tourists, Pretends to Be Costa Rica

PHOTO: Workers hang a banner to disguise Ecuador as Costa Rica. (Via YouTube)

Ecuador recently found itself in hot water following a controversial tourism operation involving nearby Costa Rica.

According to Zach Dyer of the Tico Times, in an effort to encourage travel and tourism within its own borders, the South American country of 15-plus million tricked a group of 40 tourists into thinking they were visiting Costa Rica when they were really in Ecuador all along.

Ecuadorean airline Tame teamed up with the country's Tourism Ministry and Ministry of Transport and Public Works to execute the ruse. Organizers went all out in their efforts as well, simulating customs and putting up banners and souvenirs around the airport to trick the tourists into thinking they had arrived in another country. 

Afterward, the deceived travelers participated in a number of activities, including hiking and swimming. 

A video documenting the stunt was published to YouTube over the weekend.

Although Costa Rica accepted Ecuador's apology earlier this week, the regional tourism king was not without criticism. 

"We’re unhappy about their use of our country to trick their people into getting to know their own country," Costa Rica Tourism Minister Wilhelm von Breymann told the Tico Times, adding that he doesn't believe it would "harm Costa Rica's image."

"It wasn’t well executed, but it wasnt offensive either."

However, von Breymann did discover a silver lining amid the botched effort. 

"The advantage is that they used Costa Rica as one of the most beautiful countries to visit," he told the Tico Times. "We’re very proud they used Costa Rica as an example where everyone wants to visit. It’s a sign that we’re doing things right."

Although Ecuador's Tourism Ministry may have crossed the line in this instance, the stunt is another example of the country's relentless efforts to boost tourism. Earlier this year, Ecuador spent $3.8 million on the first-ever tourism ad to air during the Super Bowl. 

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