Destinations that foreigners fall in love The magic of Colombia are not just beaches. Business and salsa are imposed.

The magic of Colombia falls in love more foreigners each year. The scenery is full oft blue, green or gray eyes that nail in them and the beaches are filled with white bodies that look the sunlight.

Unknown languages ​​and accents venture into Cartagena, Santa Marta, Medellin, Bogota, Cali and the coffee region, among others, searching for areas that are left to explore, and willing to provide memorable vacation opportunities.

Now it's usual to find a Brazilian, Argentine or Chilean in our cities, in addition to the already renowned Americans.

The figures so speak. In 2010 Brazilians coming to Colombia grew 39% from 2009. The Argentines and Chileans were not far behind. Visits fromn these Latin American friends increased by 36.5% and 25.0% respectively.

While the Americans won in tourist numbers, growth in 2010 was just over 10%, according to the Ministry of Commerce (see graphs).

Francisco Figueroa, an Argentine who recognized Colombia only through pictures he saw on the internet or television commercials, is part of the foreigners who became entangled in the magic that awakens the country.

Their destination: Tayrona, Santa Marta, an area he says, he fell in love.

"I always saw pictures of that place and I looked very beautiful, all of Colombia is beautiful. But my visit was beyond that, it was an adventure because I wanted to break the myth that this country is dangerous. My goal was to Tayrona, I did it and I will return this year, "he said.

Like him, 1,328,091 foreigners more decided to penetrate in the country between January and November 2010. The are trap by Salsa and kindness

The friendliness of the Colombians is the engine of the visits from the outside, followed by the diversity of regions and fairs and festivals in each area.

To this conclusion came Jaime Alberto Cabal, Cotelco president (*Local asociation of hotel owners), who says that as a result, United States has become the largest issuer of tourists to Colombia. From that country 308 776 visitors arrived between January and November 2010, 28,000 more than in 2009.

"After the U.S. we have visitors from neighboring countries. Followed by nations of the South: Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Europeans are the heels, "said Cabal.

Just kindness, diversity and parties come together in a single reason for Olivia St. John, a Honduran who lives in New Jersey and comes to Colombia each year to enjoy the Carnival of Barranquilla.

" I love that city. Every year I enjoy the carnival and now I know salsa and vallenato " she said. Olivia learned to love Colombia as much as her husband, Juan Luis San Juan, a Colombian who showed her the other side of this country.

Patricia Montoya, director of marketing for Mercure Hotel - Casa del Alferez in Cali-, said the Sultana (the nickname of Cali) seduces even more for the Salsa and sympathy of "Caleños". "Salsa is an attraction. Recently we received several couples who came to learn to dance salsa. I remember a lot of German and Spanish. Each took lessons and it stayed eight days, "said the executive.

Beyond the festivities, business are other source of tourism in the country. According to the President of Cotelco, business conventions are most often done in the country, especially in Cartagena, Bogotá, Cali and Medellin.

In this regard, a foreign businessman, who asked not to be mentioned, said Colombia has it all for a very short future, succeed in being a developed country.

"This nation has great opportunities to be developed if it continues with the policies and the relationships it has managed so far, Colombia has had some very positive changes in safety, what attracted me to establish a business in the city and create jobs "said the businessman, who was conquered by the Lake Calima, where he said has come back.

Efforts to improve

Hence the importance of strengthening each region and promote it in other countries, so that the growth of the visits continue to hold.

According to Paula Cortes Calle, president of the Colombian Association of Travel and Tourism, Anato, between 2009 and 2010 the increase of visitors has been above the world average.

"The country grew 10.6% in foreign visitors last year and domestic air traffic was 33.9% as of October 2010," said the executive.

She argued that for this reason it should work more on being a world-class country, through training for Colombians, in order to have more expertise in receiving tourists.

The same points Jesus Alfonso Camacho, Manager of "Camacho Mafla and Advisors Real Estate", who is currently helping several foreigners to buy property to settle in the country or start a business.

"Colombia's hot outside, so it is required that hotel employees are trained, especially in the management of other languages ​​to improve service," he said.

Until that happens, the country continues to receive more tourists on the beaches and regions, with a firm idea of ​​ratifying it is a tourist magnet for foreigners.

Guide for Foreigners

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism presented this week the first Michelin Green Guide.

The Guide provides information on the country, maps, hotels, restaurants and tourist products in English, French and Spanish and will be available in Europe, America and Australia.

From: Cali Newspaper "El Pais"
Translation: M.Jaimes


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