Colombia’s national tourism office, ProColombia, shares its strategic approach to developing its events sector.
Colombia, South America’s fourth largest economy, continues to grow according to the OECD. The country is expected to rebound to around 3% as lower interest rates, higher infrastructure spending, lower corporate taxes and higher oil prices all boost investment.
Private consumption is also strengthening, as lower inflation pushes up real wages. Exports are improving thanks to better prospects for trading partners and unemployment is falling.
Traditionally, exports have focused on the mining and energy sector, as well as coffee, flowers and bananas. Today, efforts are concentrated in six areas: agribusiness, IT, metallurgy and allied industries, fashion, chemicals and life sciences, and tourism.
Tourism, including business tourism, is one of the spearheads of the country.
According to the Colombian Central Bank, in 2017 the sector was the second largest generator of income and last year it provided 1.9 million jobs.
The government is also prioritizing four tourism sub-sectors: culture, nature, wellness and congresses. He also says that the first results of this strategy are “excellent”.
As a result, there have been significant private and public investments in infrastructure projects such as airports, hotels, convention centers and exhibition grounds.
The country has 27 convention centers and 455 hotels meeting standards for hosting conventions and events.
The four destinations with the highest international air connectivity are Bogotá (726 flights per week), Medellín (130), Cali (67) and Cartagena (65). Twenty-four airlines have air connectivity with the country.
In addition to traditional conference and event centers and destinations, Colombia has identified 117 “non-traditional” venues that it promotes for “unique event experiences”, such as the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira.
The government has invested $ 20 billion in its infrastructure revolution and says its program of building fourth generation road infrastructure, tertiary roads and building or renovating airports has been 60% completed.
In 2010 and 2017, around 180 hotels opened in the country, of which 123 were owned by chains. Accor, Four Seasons, Wyndham, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Sonesta, Atton, and Best Western all have properties in cities such as Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Cucuta, Santa Marta, and Bucaramanga.
National tourism authority ProColombia also claims the sector has received investments of nearly $ 2.1 billion through tax incentives.
The government also said it has made recent investments of around US $ 80 million for the construction and renovation of convention centers and exhibition grounds.
ProColombia also highlighted the growing opportunities brought by the legacy of the peace agreement.
Recent international events held in Colombia have included the Central American and Caribbean Games (Barranquilla, 2018), the World Economic Forum (Medellín 2016) and the UNWTO twice (Cartagena 2007 and Medellin 2015).
Last February, around 30 laureates arrived at the Nobel Peace Prize Summit in Bogota, and One Young World, the largest gathering of young people in the world, was organized in October 2017 in Bogota.
Pipeline of major conferences / events planned for 2018 and beyond includes Colombian entry to host the ICCA 2021 Congress.
Indeed, according to ICCA statistics, in 2017 Colombia organized 142 qualifying events, placing it third in Latin America in the ranking of countries. In terms of participants, Colombia is second in Latin America.
This year, the Global Incentive Summit will take place in Cartagena and the Best Cities Global Forum in Bogota.
The ProColombia agency adds that, for congresses, Health, Education, Science and Technology are the sectors that provide the most business.
“It is necessary to continue working on the growth of our country brand and to bridge the gap between the reality of the country and the perception of it abroad,” said a spokesperson for the agency. CMW.
“Our main value is our people: the hospitality, the joy and the ability that we as Colombians have to make foreign travelers feel at home.
“We are moving in the right direction, the numbers speak for themselves, with 142 occurrences.”
Colombia, land of Sabrosura, is the slogan of the current global tourism campaign. Sabrosura is a “tasty” expression that sums up Colombian music, the rhythm and the joy of its people and its landscapes.
Colombia is directly connected to 26 countries in the world and 24 airlines have air connectivity with the country.
ProColombia recognizes that there is still work to be done on the country’s brand to bridge the gap between the reality of the country and the perception of it abroad.
“Once done,” says the agency, “our main value is our people: the hospitality, the joy and the ability that we as Colombians have to make foreign travelers feel at home. We are in the right direction because the numbers speak for themselves.
Other figures pointing in the right direction include inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) which increased by 63% last year. And in May 2018, Colombia became the 37th member of the OECD, the third in Latin America with Mexico and Chile.