Days before Bogotá is host to the country’s largest travel and tourism fair ANATO, and showcase of diverse destinations for industry experts, a document released by the Conflict Analysis Resource Center claims that Colombians are leaving their country in record numbers, and not coming back.
According to CERAC, 547,000 citizens emigrated from Colombia last year and a situation not witnessed since 1998. “11 out of every 1,000 Colombians moved abroad, mainly due to the devaluation of the local currency – peso – which makes it very profitable to travel, and have hard currency income to later send back to the country for the economic improvement of families,” affirmed Jorge Restrepo, Director of CERAC. The study claims that approximately 200,000 Colombians leave the country every year, but in 2022, this figure more than doubled.
Young people between the ages of 18 and 29, and adults between the ages of 30 and 39, are the segments of the population that are taking the decision to leave for the United States, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Canada and Germany, among others.
The worrisome statistics that seem to confirm near record levels in 2022 of skilled and unskilled workers leaving the country, as well extenuating factors such as labor instability, rising costs and political uncertainty with the first elected leftist government in the country’s history, comes at a time in which the government of President Petro wants to boost tourism revenue as an alternative to a natural-resource driven economy.
CERAC’s numbers were quickly challenged by the country’s director of immigration, Fernando García, who stated that in 2022, from the 87 percent of Colombians who left the country, 62.5% traveled as tourists, and 24.3% to reside abroad. Basing his data on Migration Colombia’s entry and exit records, García highlighted that “there is no specific record that allows us to affirm that these people are not going to return to the country. A citizen can make several trips in a single period and this generates a different record each time he or she makes it, regardless of the reason.”
The country’s top migration official was also emphatic in stating that “based on the difference between entries and exits that reflect migratory flows, to affirm that these records correspond to people who are not going to return to the country, is incorrect and speculative.”
According to Migración Colombia , in 2022, more than 3 million Colombians traveled overseas for tourism, 1.1 million to reside in a foreign country, 141,722 for work, 99,590 to study, and 85,264 to attend a congress or business-related conference.