The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón reported that the National Government’s goal over the next four years is to create 250 thousand new jobs in the tourism sector. This was announced Monday during the celebration of Tourism, which took place at the Marriott Hotel in Bogota, Colombia.
President Santos said that to stimulate the growth of tourism activity, the national government will move towards an open skies policy, which aims to increase competition between airlines, so tourists will benefit from better prices and better customer service. At the same time, support for the development and modernization of the country’s air terminals will continue, as well as the further development of tourist infrastructure across the country.
To this end, the Government will allocate resources by 120 billion pesos (approx. $67 million USD) to be invested during the next four years to develop infastructure such as convention centers, docks, piers and theme parks. “We intend to build 300 kilometers of highways each year, and ensure that tourist facilities are properly marked,” said President Santos. Multiple tourism categories were mentioned for further development including both ecotourism and coastal tourism.
The President is also noted that cultural tourism would be a focus. Historical towns of the country will be highlighted and support for events like the Flower Festival in Medellin and Cartagena Hay Festival will continue to receive further tourism grants and assistance. “We will continue to promote health tourism, one of the sectors identified by the changing production program of the Ministry of Commerce for its high growth potential,” added the president.
He noted that although the tourism sector in Colombia is small compared with nations like Mexico and Costa Rica, it is an activity that is growing steadily. He added that “tourism is the first generator of foreign currency in our country, after oil and coal, making it necessary to continue the policy of growth in tourism.
Similarly, President Santos highlighted the growth of the cruise industry in Colombia. He noted that in the first six months of the year, 170 cruise ships docked at ports of Cartagena, Santa Marta and San Andres, representing an increase of 40 percent compared with the first half of 2009. “Tourism will be an integral part of Democratic Prosperity, and I am sure that in a few years, we will become a world class destination,” stated President Santos.
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