A record number of foreign visitors arrived in Colombia over the first 11 months of 2017, according to the national government.
With nearly 5.8 million foreign visitors recorded from the start of January through the end of November, the country boasted growth of 27.7% compared to the 4.5 million arrivals during the same stretch in 2016, according to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism.
“The growth in the number of international travelers reaffirms that the country is on the map of world tourism.” — María Lorena Gutiérrezm, minister of tourism
In growth-rate terms, the spike has been most pronounced in the department (the Colombian equivalent of a state) of Nariño. Its massive 497% jump in visitors can be in part attributed to becoming much safer in recent years, which has allowed more coffee tourists and birding enthusiasts to visit.
The Caribbean departments of La Guajira (116.2%) — known for its remote, gorgeous beaches Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas — and Atlántico (60.7%), highlighted by the nation’s Carnival capital Barranquilla, have also seen big gains over the past year.
November was a particularly good month for a country that continues to benefit from its improving reputation for security and a currency (Colombian peso) that has dropped precipitously in value since 2014. With 311,155 arrivals, the month saw a 35.8% growth compared to November 2016.
This marks a continuation in tourism growth that had exploded by 95% nationally between 2010 and 2016, according to government statistics. In dollar terms, this has led to an estimated increase in foreign tourism revenues from $3.4 billion USD in 2010 to almost $5.8 billion USD in 2016.
María Lorena Gutiérrez, Colombian minister of commerce, industry, and tourism, celebrated the ongoing growth and credited the government signing an historic peace deal with the guerrilla group FARC late last year for helping Colombia appeal to more international travelers.
“The growth in the number of international travelers reaffirms that the country is on the map of world tourism,” said Gutiérrez. “It is evident that tourism is one of the most economic activities that has benefited the most from the end of the conflict and that promotion strategies for the international community are working.”
Photo: The old city of Cartagena, the jewel of the Caribbean, continues to be the most iconic symbol of Colombian tourism. (Credit: Jared Wade)