How to maximize tourism in Colombia

Externado de Colombia University Academics and experts from the Colombian Hotel and Tourism Association - COTELCO - presented the project "2030 Vision of Tourism in Colombia.” Post-conflict and funding, the biggest challenges.

The research presentation, proposing public policy guidelines for promoting tourism in the country over the next 12 years, was attended by  Juan Carlos Henao, Externado Rector;  Edna Rozo, Dean of the Externado Tourism and Hotel Business Administration Faculty, and Gustavo Adolfo Toro, COTELCO Chief Executive Officer.

Throughout 2017, the Colombia Hotel and Tourism Association – COTELCO – and the Externado Tourism and Hotel Business Administration, with support from the Business Administration Faculty, have been developing the project with the goal of submitting a proposal to the 2018 Congressional and Presidential candidates.

The results of the research, carried out by open-end questions to 173 key stakeholders representing the public and private tourism sectors from all regions in Colombia (Caribbean, Central- South, Llanos, Central-East, Coffee Region, and Pacific) were presented by Luis Alejandro Pico, from COTELCO, and Externado professor-researcher Maria Luisa Galán.

Among the problems encountered in each department was the lack of clarity and information on tourist sites; the perception of insecurity persists; there is no suitable infrastructure for visitors.  Also, those working in the sector lack sufficient training; and, in particular, tourism is not prioritized as public policy; thus, the current budget allocation does not surpass 3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

At the meeting, the researchers addressed 9 central themes which would strengthen tourism in Colombia over the next 12 years: institutional framework, governance and funding sources; infrastructure connectivity and accessibility; business environment; territorial tourism management and planning; human resources; tourism innovation, research, and technology; destinations management and innovation, tourism services providers; value chain and sustainability.

“Tourism is one of the most important sectors of a country; in fact, it is the main source of income in Spain. In Colombia, with the peace process and these studies, we can achieve this,” said Rector Juan Carlos Henao in his welcome to the meeting.

Solutions presented in the research include strengthening tourism management at the local level; creation of plans and campaigns for training service providers; promotion of projects and destinations, as well as current law reforms.

Another pertinent topic discussed was sustainability, which includes not only environmental factors (Colombia is one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world), but economic, social, and cultural. The speakers stressed the importance of designing and planning land use, from a tourism perspective, giving priority to the country’s current post-conflict situation.

The research also proposes greater funding by the State and the private sector, in addition to strengthening remote areas having great tourist potential.

The meeting closed with a discussion on the research, held by Julián Guerrero, Procolombia Vice President of Tourism; José Andrés Duarte, Director of the Bogotá District Tourism Institute; Juan Carlos Galindo, President of OxoHotel, and Javier Torres, PhD in Political Science, and coordinator of the Externado de Colombia PhD in Political Studies program.