Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 20th 2017 Contents APRIL 20 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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Improved security conditions and new
air linkages are raising Colombia's
appeal as an international destina-
tion and helping to drive growth in
The number of foreign arrivals rose
by 13.7 per cent year-on-year to 2.34m in the
first 11 months of 2016, according to the lat-
est figures from the Ministry of Commerce,
Industry and Tourism.
Tapping into the
While Colombia is looking to attract more
international visitors, it is also paying increased
attention to domestic tourists as drivers of
growth in the industry.
The government launched a promotional
campaign in March to encourage locals to visit
regions previously seen as out of bounds due
to security concerns, namely Boyacá in central
Colombia, neighbouring Santander and Cauca
in the south-west.
According to María Claudia Lacouture, min-
ister of commerce, industry and tourism, the
peace dividend for the tourism industry will
be substantial. "In an environment of peace in
Colombia, there will be more territory for tour-
ism. This will require a range of new tourism
products, strengthening destinations through-
out the country and expanding the number
of companies that operate in the sector," she
In addition to a more stable security situa-
tion, domestic tourism is being fuelled by more
affordable fares, increased competition and
the opening up of new routes, according to the
country's civil aviation authority, Aerocivil.
The agency recorded a total passenger count
of 35.8 million at the country's airports in 2016
-- a 4.8 per cent increase on the previous year.
The three destinations that posted the
strongest growth were the Rafael Núñez In-
ternational Airport in Cartagena, a historically
relevant and popular tourist port; José María
Córdova International Airport in Medellín;
and Gustavo Rojas International Airport on
the Caribbean island of San Andres.
Lower ticket prices made the cost of air travel
comparable to land options on some routes.
To support the increased local demand
for air travel and improve access for foreign
travellers, Colombia is investing in upgrades
and expansions to most of its domestic and
Last year, the government announced a pro-
gramme of improvements to 52 of the country's
airports at a total cost of US$2.9bn. The most
notable of these is the COP770bn (US$258.3m)
renovation of Bogotá's El Dorado International
Airport, which currently accounts for 78 per
cent of Colombia's international passenger
traffic and 40 per cent of domestic flows.
Work is also expected to break ground on a
second airport in Bogotá---El Dorado II---lat-
er this year. Scheduled to begin operations in
2021, the $3bn facility will be located just 15
km away from the original El Dorado airport.
Together, the airports will have an annual pas-
senger-handling capacity of around 69.2m,
around twice that of the existing facility.
Along with domestic travel, Colombia could
benefit from developing niche tourism seg-
ments. The country has seen its reputation
as a destination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) travellers develop recently.
Colombia was nominated as an emerging
LGBT tourist destination at FITUR 2017, an an-
nual international tourism trade fair in Spain,
due to its promotion of LGBT-specific holi-
day packages, and the strength of legislative
and social reforms reinforcing LGBT rights,
including same-sex marriage.
Four stands of Colombian tourism oper-
ators took part in the fair's dedicated LGBT
promotions area, showcasing vacation options
in Bogotá, Medellin and Cartagena. Colombia's
tourism and trade promotion authority, Pro-
Colombia, also gained recognition at FITUR,
receiving an award for its efforts to develop
According to the latest figures from the
World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC),
tourism's direct contribution to GDP was
predicted to grow by 2.1 per cent last year to
COP16.34trn (US$5.5bn), rising by 4.5 per cent
per annum to reach COP23.68trn (US$8bn)
The WTTC also estimates that Colombia will
see an annual growth rate in visitor numbers
of 2.3 per cent between 2016 and 2026, when
4.3 million tourists are predicted.
The influx of visitors is expected to gen-
erate an increase in international receipts.
In 2015 spending by incoming tourists came
in at COP13.9trn (US$4.6bn), a number the
WTTC forecast would expand by 8.2 per cent
in 2016, before growing by 2.3 per cent per year
through to 2026.
This growth potential in tourism could be
partly realised by broader economic gains in the
medium term. Colombia's GDP is forecast by
the IMF to expand by 2.7 per cent this year---up
from 2.2 per cent in 2016---with growth of 3.8
per cent and 4.3 per cent projected for 2018
and 2019, respectively.
This Colombia economic update was produced
by Oxford Business Group.
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