The number of foreign tourists entering Colombia increased 10.8% in the first quarter of this year, while domestic air passengers rose 38% compared with the same period in 2009, according to Dinero.com.
The impressive figures were released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism at the 20th biannual conference of tourism authorities in Ibague, which delegates had to reach by road because of the severe weather conditions that have hit the country recently.
Over 345,000 tourists landed in Colombia in the first four months of 2010, up from 311,000 a year before, and the number of passengers on domestic flights soared to nearly 2 million.
Cruise ships servicing the Caribbean coast also added to the numbers as 174,313 holiday makers stepped onto Colombian shores in the first quarter, up 16.2% from 2009.
Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Luis Guillermo Plata said that the revenue brought in by foreign visitors represented Colombia’s third largest “export” behind oil and coal.
The minister emphasized the importance of the improved security situation in the country in both attracting foreign tourists and promoting domestic travel.
“The message we want to send is that domestic tourism impacts the economy of the region and the security issue is not negotiable. If we want tourism, we must have security – remember this,” Plata said.
The next conference will be held in Boyaca in the second half of this year.