Colombia: a total South American experience in one

European demand for travel to Colombia is currently outstripping flight availability, according to Deputy Minister of Tourism in Colombia, Juan Pablo Franky.

“There is no room, this is something that has to be solved,” Franky told ITB Berlin News in the wake of expanding demand for a destination that promises to combine a total South American travel experience in one location.

With 12% growth from the German market alone in 2017 (though the Spanish market remains four times the size, benefitting from many more flight connections), Europe is being sold on the rising South American hotspot that boasts both diversity, and biodiversity.

“From the Amazon to the Caribbean, we have one million square kilometres of tropical destination options, 365 days of perfect weather conditions, and four thousand kilometres of sea coast, half the Pacific, half the Atlantic. You have the mountains, the coffee growing areas, the magnificent archaeological sites,” Franky explained.

Communicating this diversity is therefore one of the challenges that the Colombian tourism authority was addressing at ITB Berlin. To this end, a particular focus is growing agritourism offerings, especially in the coffee plantations dotted around the highland region. Colombian coffee is regarded as some of the best quality in the region, if not the world, and the culture around the aromatic bean is another key tourism selling point.

“It’s a unique experience to go and to see and to really feel what coffee is for us,” said Franky.

Another key part of Franky’s mission at ITB Berlin is to “convince more investors to see Columbia as a great opportunity.” He describes Colombia’s tax benefit policy that was created as an incentive to tourism investment in the South American nation. Hotel developers, for instance, can obtain tax breaks for up to 20 years.

A number of major hotel chains, Marriott to Accor, have already taken advantage of the incentive, however the goal is to attract more resort properties. In this regard, Franky is hopeful that a major deal negotiated at ITB Berlin will soon be announced.