Quito, Ecuador was announced as host city of the pageant on 19 August 2003. The city paid $5 million for the right to host the event, although it anticipated recouping this through visitors and promotion of the country during the televised competition.
In March Ecuador's foreign trade minister was forced to reject rumours that the pageant was at risk of being moved to China, and he urged Ecuadoreans to back the pageant.
As an added incentive for tourists, Ecuador American Airlines, official airline sponsor of the pageant, offered 5% off airfares to Quito for travel to the pageant, as well as 10% off for those who booked a month in advance.
The attempted use of the pageant to promote Ecuador threatened to be derailed just prior to the telecast, when a corruption scandal led to growing demands for the removal of President Lucio Gutierrez in the politically unstable country.
Prior to the arrival of delegates in early May, officials in Quito attempted to renovate areas where they would be visiting, which involved temporarily removing beggars and homeless people from certain areas of the city. Similar action was taken in Bangkok, Thailand prior to Miss Universe 1992 and in Manila, Philippines prior to Miss Universe 1994.
The event was protested by native Indian activists and environmentalists who accused the government of concealing the nations poverty whilst the pageant was being hosted.
The delegates, judges, media and tourists were heavily protected by a security detail involving over 5000 police officers.
On 16 May, just hours before delegates were expected to participate in a parade in Cuenca, a pamphlet bomb was deactivated by police. Although it was protesting the economic policies of the Ecuadorean government, police suspected that the bomb, found just six blocks from the parade route, was timed specifically to coincide with the event.