January 29, 2011 § 1 Comment
Here’s a few recent videos from ProExport Colombia.
September 24, 2010 § Leave a Comment
IT’S not called the Parque de Los Novios — Park of the Newlyweds — for nothing. Young couples lock arms as they stroll past rows of freshly planted flowers. A Sinatra love ballad sung in Spanish echoes from a corner dive bar. Aside from a few mustachioed, sombrero-clad men playing a board game, it seemed as if everyone on this breezy August evening was on a romantic sabbatical.
Yet this square in the center of Santa Marta, a port city along the Caribbean coast of Colombia, was not always a streetlamp-lighted refuge of romance. Just a few years back, the park was a tumbledown area trafficked mostly by prostitutes and petty criminals.
Wedged between the sea and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta peaks, the city may be Colombia’s oldest, but it has always been seen as the grittier and more industrial counterpart to nearby Cartagena — at best, a stopover point for visitors looking to trek through Tayrona National Park or hike to the Lost City, a well-known archaeological site nearby.
“Until five years ago nobody would come here because of the guerrillas,” said Michael McMurdo, a New York City-trained chef who recently opened a Mexican restaurant, Agave Azul, in Santa Marta. “While there is still some sketchy stuff going on, I like it here because it still feels real and Colombian.” – Source (more here)
August 19, 2010 § 1 Comment
“A new option for cruise ship adventure tourism will be available starting in August, when the Sea Voyager, with a capacity of 55 people, starts to sail along the Colombian Pacific. The ship, that among its commodities will have a gym, dining room, observation deck, library and spa, will depart from Panama. Afterwards it will remain, with a base in Buenaventura, during the season of whale watching, which goes until October, and there will also be cruises that sail around the island of Gorgona, Utría cove and Málaga bay. The duration for the cruises will be around five days and four nights.
The Sea Voyager comes with cabins with private bathrooms and panoramic windows with a view of the sea. With this new initiative, the intention is to allow passengers to get to know the enormous natural beauty of Colombia and its biodiversity, with beaches, corral reefs, tropical forests and coves, as well as a grand variety of flora and fauna species. The Sea Voyager project is part of the tourism efforts that are attracting travelers to a lesser known region of Colombia. The project is made possible thanks to an alliance between the Aviatur Group and the Colombia Ecoturismo company.” – Source (in ES)
March 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
A best-of video compilation of great reasons to come to Colombia (from a foreigner’s viewpoint)!
February 18, 2010 § Leave a Comment
“The Colombian Institute of Anthropology and the Global Heritage Fund announced on Tuesday that they will invest $580,000 in the maintenance of the Ciudad Perdida, or Lost City.
The Lost City is in Teyuna Archeological Park, located on Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Discovered in 1972, the ruins are thought to date from 800 A.D. The site has only recently been open to visitors, as the area was previously occupied by guerrilla forces.
El Informador explains that the development of the park, recognized as one of the most historically important in the country, will be funded by investments of $180,000 by the ICANH and $400,000 by US Heritage Fund.
The money will be used for research and restoration projects in and around the historical site.
“This agreement shows … a very promising example of international co-operation for projects of conservation and protection of the vast wealth of archeological heritage in the country and represents a great boost to the cultural patrimony of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and of the nation as a whole,” said Diego Herrera, the director of ICANH.
Tourism to the park will also be promoted with the publication of bilingual Spanish and English guides for visitors.” – Colombia Reports
Sounds a bit silly to invest so much money in such a historic site as the Lost City unless the point is to bring in tourism. With so much going in, someone somewhere must be betting on even more coming out of the deal. It sounds like the Ciudad Perdida might need to change its name soon, to something like Ciudad Encontrada.
December 9, 2009 § Leave a Comment
“Chicamocha National Park (in ES) became Colombia’s most visited attraction according to statistics revealed by the Ministry of Trade and Tourism Monday. According to the Ministry, in the three years since Chicamocha’s opening, the park – located in the department of Santander – has received 978,000 visitors and is expecting to top one million by the end of the year. As a result of these figures the park is preparing to cater for 2010′s influx of tourists, considering that a 30% increase in visitor numbers is expected during the coming new year, reported news site Vanguardia Monday.”
- Colombia Reports (more here)
September 25, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Over at Colombia Reports, there’s a short read on recent statistics reporting that 53% of tourists to Colombia prefer Bogotá as a destination. I’m not sure I agree, well, let me put that another way. I can see why Bogotá (and I’m sure Cartagena) is a top destination being it is the capital and has a lot to offer the tourist but I think the behavior that supports such statistics is influenced by a lack of knowledge about other regions and cities within Colombia in addition to a push by tour agencies to promote a place with ‘the most to offer’ a potential tourist.
As I’ve been known to say, I have a love/hate relationship with tourism, especially towards Colombian tourism. I love Colombia and that should be quite obvious but a large part of the charm of traveling to any Colombian city is finding that tourists are far and few. On the flip side, I want Colombia to be prosperous and I want their tired, old image to be changed which means at some point, I need to relent and push for hands-on experience in order to get the true feel for what the country is and isn’t. Considering that point though (and playing a bit of Devil’s Advocate), if so many people can have an opinion of a country they’ve never visited then it must be equally true that the image they hold can be changed without them stepping foot in the country.
Perhaps my qualm, as with all tourism, is I appreciate true tourism (what some might call ‘cultural tourism’ and/or ‘eco-tourism’) over the all-too-common exploitative tourism.
September 5, 2009 § Leave a Comment
According to Colombia Reports which went off of a report by the Ministry of Commerce, tourism will reach 2.8 million for 2010. I find this interesting as in 2005, official numbers were at roughly 800,000, with 2006 coming in at just over 1 million, while 2007 numbers reached 1.3 million. At that time, the projected 2010 numbers were to reach 4 million and even with a number far short of that, tourism is expected to increase in the country by 15 percent by next year. With the real numbers being set against projected numbers and whole years being set against partial years, it’s hard to say much until each calendar year actually ends.
“Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism expects the country to receive 2.8 million visitors in 2010, a record figure representing an increase of 15 per cent over 2008. This projected rise is based on the proportional increase of arriving travelers listing recreational and business purposes for travel in Colombia.
According to the Ministry, Argentina is one of the countries generating the highest number of visitors to Colombia, ranking 6th in the world in the period from January to June 2009. In the same period, Colombia received more than 638,000 visitors, a growth of 10.3 per cent over the same period in 2008.” – Source
August 31, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Ten young professionals from different nationalities visited Colombia for ten days as part of a program that expected to change their perspective about Colombia by showing them the country not only as a beautiful tourist destination but as a place of opportunities.
FARC, drugs and war are some of the concepts to which Colombia has always been linked in the media all over the world. Knowing that most of the prejudices foreigners have about Colombia needed to be challenged, Alan Wangenberg started the Colombian Connection Project, that step by step hopes to change the perception of the country and its image in the world. The participants in the project visited different places in the country, shared a number of activities with several NGOs and took part in lectures given by famous Colombian personalities. The objective was to show them a different country, the real one behind the stereotypes and stigma. Besides, the project raised funds for ‘Colombianitos’, a Colombian charity, and will soon be releasing a documentary that gathers the experiences of the participants.
The project received collaboration from different Colombian organizations such as Colombia is Passion, Federación Nacional de Cafeteros and the Bogota Visitors and Convention Bureau. Semana International reproduces two of the testimonies of the participants that came to Colombia with skepticism and left with a unique experience. – Source
The work that Mr. Wangenberg does is very important and it is something I have considered myself. Colombia is as misunderstood as any country could be and that is thanks to the media. We need more native English-speaking people who are willing to turn that idea on its head.
Perhaps though, Mr. Wangenberg should have the participants take a writing class or ask them to at least write more, unless of course the purpose is to teach the participants about Colombia rather than teach those who might be reading their stories.
On a side note, a documentary will be coming out shortly on the experiences of these travelers, called Shooting Colombia.
January 2, 2009 § 1 Comment
According to El Tiempo, a new law in Santa Marta prohibits the entrance of buses with more than 24 people aboard into the areas of El Rodadero and Taganga. For those unlucky enough to be traveling by bus over the holidays, the first sights they will see will be of the 4 kilometer-walk from where the bus unloads them in the Gaira sector, to the balneario (seaside resort) El Rodadero, the principal tourist center of Santa Marta.
One of the region’s hotels has had to cancel at least 10 excursions, which of course, when calculating out, means less money to the region’s residents.
The story (in Spanish) is here on El Tiempo.