Who Visits Colombia?
Colombia received 3 million foreign visitors in 2017 according to the country’s trade ministry. Maybe it’s not a lot when compared to the world’s top tourist destinations: France, tops the list, with 84 million foreign visitors followed by the USA who welcomed 77 million foreign visitors. In Latin America, Colombian only lags behind Brazil’s 6.3 million foreign tourists last year and Chile’s – 5.6 million.
Colombia is keeping pace with Cuba’s 3.5 million foreign tourists in 2017 and Peru’s 3.4 million tourists. Foreign tourism in Colombia has been steadily increasing around 13% every year. It’s has increased over 300% since 2006 when only 1 million foreign tourists visited the country. The top countries to visit Colombia are the USA and Venezuela followed by Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Spain, Chile and Panama.
The cities of Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin are the most visited sites. But foreign tourist hear the calling, many returning again and again. Colombia is a complex, fascinating country that merits further investigation.
Outside of the passenger ships in Cartagena’s harbor flooding tourists into its historic center, it seems the world has yet to discover the more remote areas of Colombia. Corporate tourism barely exists here and tour buses are a rarity. Colombia has remained relatively unchanged for the last 40 years.
Why Visit Colombia?
Because there is so much to see and do. The country is beautiful, the people friendly and helpful. The climate is perfect. A good service structure already exists. Everything is so affordable. Tourism is overdue and coming fast. As they say – nothing stays the same.
Colombia is rated as one of the 10 most affordable countries in the world for foreign travelers, one of the five friendliest and one of the top 10 countries for expats to live in.
It has been ranked #22 out of 140 countries for the quality of its health care by the World Health Organization. Lasik surgery was invented here in 1963 as was the pacemaker in 1958.
How Big is It?
With a land mass area larger than France, Colombia is the fourth largest nation in Latin America (440,800 square miles) and the third most populous in South America (the 28th largest population in the world). With an unequaled habitat, Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country in the world.
Seasoned travelers say, while often misunderstood, Colombia is South America’s best kept secret – beautiful, affordable and mostly undiscovered by foreign tourists. The country is easy to travel with plenty of low cost internal flights, comfortable cross-country buses and inexpensive taxis literally everywhere.
Travelers can easily visit more than 2-3 destinations in a week. And there are dozens of destinations for travelers with the luxury of time to spare. An inexpensive country, money for extended travel is usually not a major concern here as there are a variety of inexpensive alternatives: cheap eats abound as do buses and hostels. Colombia, never boring, never gets old.
Even the smaller villages have excellent lodging, Wi-Fi and amenities. This country has history, scenery, mountains, coastlines, beaches, islands, rainforests, lush green landscapes, raging rivers, sleepy colonial towns, archeological sites, hip, hot metropolitan cities, friendly, diverse and sophisticated people, amazing markets, street food, public transit, excellent coffee and a wide array of fruits, vegetables and seafood to discover.
Is Colombia Safe?
Prior reputation as a violent and unsafe country is for the most part unfounded today. Colombia, once the most notoriously violent epicenter of drugs and kidnappings has seen the murder rate fall from 70 people per 100,000 people to just 26 per 100,000 in 2015.
Peace is at hand after five decades of conflict involving two rebel movements, the Colombian army and right-wing paramilitary groups. The dark days of violence resulted in more than 260,000 deaths, the disappearance of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of 6 million people.
In the last decade the Colombian government has killed or imprisoned most of the notorious narco-traffickers and the drug trade has been pushed out of the cities and into the jungle and the country’s most remote areas.
Peace accords have been struck with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a revolutionary group which financed itself through involvement in Colombia’s drug trade. The group has turned over its weapons and is in the process of reorganizing a political movement. A cease-fire was also signed with the ELN (the National Liberation Army).
Colombians tell me they feel safe walking the streets and country roads once again. But people, a resilient lot, are still trying to come to terms with everything they have lived through. But rather than look back, they choose to look ahead to a hopefully promising future.
Today, the tourist office’s promotional slogan is: “Colombia – the only risk is wanting to stay!”
Colombians are genuinely happy to see tourists slowly returning. It’s a good sign, they say. There is more to Colombia than the stereotypes of narco drug traffickers and aimless violence. And they want the world to know it.
Up-to-date information on Travel in Colombia
Todays travelers are finding there’s not the right information out there about Colombia. What is essential to see? How do I get there? What will I find? How long does it take? How much does it cost? Is it safe?
While there’s decent coverage on the history, geography and politics of the country, the newspapers, academics and guide books have taken care of that, there’s not enough on the nuts and bolts of traveling in Colombia. For the most part, travel in Colombia is still a leap into adventure.
Travelers in Colombia want and need more information on these places before and during their trips. Even with the internet, updated information is often hard to find. Travel experiences and information are still for the most part being shared via word of mouth, in hostels, huddled over maps, traveler to traveler.
The purpose of this blog is simply to supply more information to the people contemplating a trip to Colombia.
Want to learn more? Then keep reading here. Travel To – Destinations Colombia
~~For more information on Colombian destinations click on the topics below:~~
Coming in 2019: Colombia’s Pacific coastline – Buenaventura and surrounding beaches; the Carnival of Barranquilla, San Jose del Guaviare, Los Llanos – Colombia’s far west – Villavicencio; more thermal springs and spas, more colonial villages and a visit to Colombia’s neighbor – Panama.
Check back in from time to time and leave your comments and personal experiences or any questions you may have in the comment box below. We will share them.