Colombia’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism announced its plan to teach English to 7,000 tourism service providers throughout the country by 2015 in hopes of making Colombia a world-renowned travel destination.
Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados said the “Bilingualism for the Tourist Industry” plan put forth by the ministry “looks to reduce one of the greatest gaps identified in the development of tourist activity in the country, which is the lack of personnel who have a good command, at the very least, of the English language.”
To start, staff who work in sectors and geographical areas of the country with higher levels of interaction with foreigners will have first priority to participate in the program. The priority locations have been identified as the cities of Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Santa Marta, Cartagena, and the Coffee Triangle region, among others. Leading tourism service providers included personnel working in hotels and vacation centers, travel agencies, theme parks, convention centers, as well as conference, fair, and convention leaders, travel guides, and taxi drivers.
The plan is a collaboration between the Colombian ministry, the Association of Travel Agencies (ANATO), the Hotel and Tourism Association of Colombia (COTELCO), and the National Learning Service (SENA) which is in charge of online English language classes through their “English for every Colombian” platform that offers five levels of language, each including 60 hours of instruction.