With a growing number of haute cuisine restaurants and boutique hotels, Colombia’s historical port city Cartagena is making a name for itself as a top destination for luxury travel, a reputation the city is keen to maintain.
The picturesque coastal city has for a long time been one of Colombia’s most popular tourist destinations, receiving close to 1 million foreign visitors per year, who are drawn by its romantic atmosphere and buzzing cultural and social scene.
However, more recently the city has seen a growing trend for luxury and high-end travel, and although this new market accounts for just 1% of the city’s visitors, it contributes significantly to Cartagena’s fast-growing economy.
According to representatives of government tourism agency Proexport, the city is now serviced by three high-end travel agencies – holiday “designers” that offer tailored trips for those with sufficient funds.
Ricardo Hernandez, a spokesperson for one such agency “Singular Luxury Travel Designers” describes one holiday in which a woman asked for personalized cooking lessons in which she would learn to make classic Colombian snacks such as carimañolas, arroz de coco and arepas de huevo, paying $6,000 for the pleasure.
The number of stylish clubs, restaurants and shops in the city is ever-growing, with entrepreneurs always looking for unique ways to entice high-end visitors.
Proexport consultant Francisco Vergara explained that this particular type of tourism is a new phenomenon, which has come about due to a new sense of security in Colombia and which Cartagena is keen to encourage and develop.