Gilberto Salcedo, VP of Tourism, Colombia

The South American nation attracted 4.5 million global visitors in 2019. Its record year contributed 9 per cent of the country’s total economy.

Gilberto Salcedo, VP of Tourism, Colombia

The South American nation attracted 4.5 million global visitors in 2019. Its record year contributed 9 per cent of the country’s total economy.

“The tourism industry in Colombia is so important for our country,” said Gilberto Salcedo, VP of Tourism, Colombia, at the 2022 World Travel Market in London.

The South American nation attracted 4.5 million global visitors in 2019: its record year contributed 9% of revenue to the country’s total economy.

Colombia’s tourism industry has bounced back strongly following the pandemic – figures from January to September 2022 are at 97% of their pre-pandemic level.

“We are a belated actor in the tourism field because of the security issues of the past,” Salcedo admitted. “We are convinced that the UK market is interested in different products in Colombia – especially wildlife, nature, products for families and products for young people.”

Why go now?

“Right now Colombia is a very competitive country in South America because of the devaluation of the Colombian peso. You can find international standards in our tour operations but with good prices – two or three times what you get in other countries in South America.”

“We’re promoting Colombia’s six regions, with different experiences depending on the region,” he adde.

“You have the great Colombian Caribbean but we are not an all-inclusive destination. We are a destination full of experiences related to our communities, our national parks, our colonial towns like Cartagena, and also the Colombian Pacific with its music, gastronomy and biodiversity. The Colombian Massif has archaeological attractions. The Amazonia and Orinoquia regions form the big green heart of the country and offer sustainable tourism products. We are, in fact, the second most biodiverse country on earth,” explains Salcedo.

“Medellin has come through a difficult past to become one of the most innovative cities in the world, “ he adds. Once a destination impacted by drug-related violence, the city now offers travellers opportunities to witness social transformation through storytelling.

How to sell Colombia

The VP of Tourism likens Colombia’s six regions to separate countries and suggests it’s possible for travellers to spend 10 to 15 days in each one.

“We are talking about Colombia’s six touristic regions. We think it’s the best way to explain and to show our country because we have many cultures and rich gastronomy. The way that we organise the offer matches the way that travel agents can see the products and choose alternatives. Everything that an agent needs to sell Colombia is on the colombia.travel website,” says Salcedo.

Procolombia’s office in London (tel: 020 7491 3535) offers support to travel agents with Colombia-related enquiries.

FAM trips to Colombia

Colombia offers travel agents a programme of familiarisation trips.

The annual Colombia Travel Mart, in February, and Colombia Natural Travel Market, in September or October, are key events offering detailed insights into the country’s tourism products.

Sustainable tourism in Colombia

Traditional destinations such as Cartagena, Bogota, Medellin and Cali were promoted before the pandemic. “The pandemic brings us new trends, new ways to do things. Colombia is a destination that matches the new trends because we have natural and cultural assets. For example, at Guaviare you’re going to find natural experiences. You can go swimming with pink dolphins. You can see paintings from indigenous communities that are more than 12,000 years old. You can go to the Rainbow River… Right now you can find a lot of experiences real experiences in Colombia related to sustainability,” says Salcedo of a region that offers travellers eco-lodges.

“We are building up virtuous circles in Colombia. Preserving and conserving and at the same time generating employment and income for local people income.”

Getting there

Daily direct flights with Avianca Airlines leave Heathrow at 9.40pm and arrive in Bogota, Colombia’s capital city, early in the morning. Connecting flights are then available to destinations across Colombia.


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