During the launch on Wednesday of the 39th version of Vitrina Túristica, the annual travel fair organized by the Colombian Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANATO), the government highlighted a new record in the numbers of tourists who visited the country in 2019. Addressing an auditorium of industry representatives, President Iván Duque ratified the government’s commitment to making the sector more competitive by investing in local infrastructure and regional development. Having exceeded the target of 4,5 million non-resident visitors in 2019, and hotel occupancy reaching 57.8%, tourism in Colombia grew above the 3.3% increase in GDP for the same year, and highest for a Latin American nation. In his keynote, President Duque stated that for 2020, Colombia wants 6 million visitors.

Among a slate of travel-related announcements that include the upgrading of the airports in Cúcuta, Popayán, Buenaventura, Mompox, Santa Marta and Armenia, the government also revealed that by August 2022, the country’s coffee-growing region will see completion of the international Aerocafé airport in Pereira, adding to greater connectivity of the departments of Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda, with international hubs.

Last year, the country also witnessed a surge in new air routes serving 39 international destinations. According to figures released by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT), the U.S accounts for the most amount of visitors coming to Colombia with 22% of the market share, followed by Mexico, Argentina and Peru (all with 6%), and Brazil (5%). The ranking of cities/regions which received the most number of foreign tourists are Bogotá, Caribbean Coast, Coffee Region and Medellín. Vistors from Peru and France increased by 19% and 12%, respectively.

With the slogan “Colombia Open to the World” as his backdrop, President Duque highlighted that 41 million passengers used Colombian airports in 2019 and “great opportunity to optimize aeronautical infrastructure at the service of tourism.” The President also wants to double the number of cruise ships entering Colombian ports, despite 360,000 who arrived by sea last year. To achieve this goal, the government will launch a new campaign to attract world cruise operators. “When you think of ‘Colombia,’ we want the global community to think of a country that receives with open arms all tourists,” remarked Duque, emphasizing also that development in the sector must be accompanied by sustainable practices. “The greatest attribution that our country has is to be the most welcoming in the world from customer service, emotions and capacity to connect an entire country with a wealth of geographical, cultural and human resources,” he said.

Among the foreign carriers that have announced their arrival in Colombia this year are Sky (Chile), EZ Air (Dutch Antilles), Laser Airlines (Venezuela) and Plus Ultra (Spain).  New direct international destinations from Bogotá include Porto Alegre with Avianca and Montreal with Air Canada.