Three international tourism companies have had to cancel travel packages to the northern region of La Guajira after the kidnapping of two Spaniards in the region resulted in approximately 100 tourists cancelling their reservations.
Claudia Delgado, press chief for the travel industry group Anato, which represents the three companies affected, confirmed with Colombia Reports that the tourists, due to travel to the region in the next few days, became “scared” by the recent developments in the northern department and forced the hand of the agencies by cancelling their travel plans.
Although Delgado played down the developments, saying that it was only “a few” travel agencies that were affected, the press chief added her concerns to those expressed by regional Anato representative Ivan Alvear, stating their “worry” that events such as the kidnapping, in addition to the murder of four government officials in the region on Wednesday, may have an effect on tourism to the region, with the high season “around the corner.”
The two Spanish nationals have been kidnapped since Friday, May 17 and are still to be located by government authorities. Their kidnappers initially identified themselves as belonging to Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, a claim which has been dismissed by leaders of the rebel organization, who attributed the kidnapping to “common criminals.”
President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday said that his government had been in “permanent contact” with their Spanish counterparts since finding out about the kidnapping, adding that “it was a policy decision of ours to maintain this contact in a discreet and prudent manner.”
Tourism to the region of La Guajira had increased by 70% in the last year, bringing a reported $3 million to the local economy. In the high season, the department receives an average of 1,700 foreigners attracted by the popular ‘zona de Camarones’ as well as the ‘Cabo de La Vela’, where it is believed the two Spaniards were headed before they were kidnapped.
- Cancelan paquetes turísticos tras secuestro de españoles en La Guajira (Caracol)
- Se presentó desbandada de turistas extranjeras en La Guajira tras secuestro de españoles (Radio Nacional de Colombia)
- Interview with Claudia Delgado
- Continúa la búsqueda de dos españoles secuestrados en La Guajira (El Espectador)