Colombia falls five places to 77 on the world tourism scale, despite a steady increase in international visitors, according to the 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index compiled by the World Economic Forum.
While the country excelled in areas such as visa requirements and Internet penetration, the lack of security, poor road conditions and the quality of airports caused Colombia to drop from 72 to 77 out of 139 countries in the last two years.
According to the report, Colombia ranked 108 in terms of the quality and safety of roadways and 102 in terms of the quality of railways, of which there are very few in the country.
The index measures 14 fundamental pillars in developing the tourist trade, such as regulation, health and hygiene, infrastructure, human resources, natural, cultural, prices and security.
Switzerland received first place in the global ranking, followed by Germany, Austria and France. The first Latin American country to rank was Barbados at 28 and Mexico at 43.
“One positive is that Colombia ranked 12 in the world in terms of natural attractions, unfortunately our ‘Achilles heel’ remains insecurity,” the director of the Center for Competitive Strategic Thought at the University of Rosario Saul Pineda told newspaper El Portafolio.
Colombia is one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries in the world, and has a total of 55 national parks. In addition to Colombia’s natural wealth, in cultural affairs it climbed from 56 to 45.
According to Pineda, the country must “develop better product offerings by focusing on delivering great bargains in adventure tourism, business travel, cultural and health tourism.”
Diana Heredia Mazuera who works for an international organization based in Washington indicated that the portrayal of Colombia in international newscasts is the main hindrance to Colombia’s perception as a tourist destination.
“Unfortunately, many of the stories you hear related to Colombia are still related to drugs, violence and insecurity and that causes a tourist, when selecting a country, to set Colombia aside,” she said.
However, despite a critical portrayal of Colombia in international news, new passenger visits to Colombia grew 8.9% in 2010. Foreign travelers come primarily from the United States, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Spain.