Two lovely Colombian towns, Filandia and Zapatoca, have been named among the Best Tourism Villages of 2023, an annual honor handed out by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Photo: Filandia, a small town in Quindio, Colombia. (Photo credit: Hdhdhdyboot)
Filandia is located in the small, coffee-producing department of Quindio and has a reputation as the quieter, lesser-known sister town to Salento. Both sit beside the towering wax palms that dot the area and not far from the iconic Cocora Valley. It is an instant hit with all tourists for its signature colorful buildings, perfect weather, and unique cafetero culture.
Zapatoca in Santander is best known for its orange-hued architecture, tiled rooftops, religious heritage, and similarly pleasant climate. It too has been historically overshadowed by the picturesque town of Barichara. But, as with Filandia it continues to gain more and more recognition from travelers who understand all that it has to offer and have grown weary of the overcrowded towns that have surrendered some of their charm in exchange for their hotspot status.
Overall, 54 locations were chosen this year by the UNWTO out of the 260 applications that were considered in this third annual recognition.
Latin America was well represented. Peru received five honorees, while Mexico received three and Chile got three as well, including the delightful Pisco Elqui. Mexico and Argentina were each represented by one town.
“Tourism can be a powerful force for inclusivity, empowering local communities and distributing benefits across regions,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the UNWTO, when announcing the winners.
“This initiative acknowledges villages that have harnessed tourism as a catalyst for their development and well-being.”
Six other Colombian towns were also nominated for the honor but not selected: Jericó (Antioquia), Iza (Boyacá), Villavieja (Huila), Providencia (San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina), Tibasosa (Boyacá), and Guadalupe (Santander).
In early 2024, the agency will put out a new request for submissions that may be honored next year.