Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday announced a $66 million investment in the tourism sector, and said that the industry’s growth had stagnated because of security issues.
The money will be invested in the development of convention centers, docks, and theme parks, which should create 250,000 jobs, Santos said.
“For too long, tourism, especially ecotourism, has been stalled by the lack of security. Tourism has been one of the industries hardest hit by the unrest, and will also be one of the sectors that will benefit from security,” Santos said in a meeting in Bogota.
The president said he aims for more competition in the country’s flight routes, resulting in lower airfares.
The development of the country’s infrastructure should also stimulate tourism, said Santos. “We intend to build 300 kilometres of highways each year and one of our priorities is to ensure that tourist facilities are properly marked,” explained the president.
The plan is to develop cultural tourism, inviting travellers to get to know historical towns, and to promote events like the Bogota Theater Festival and the Hay literary festival in Cartagena. Colombia’s sun and beaches also draw in tourists, and Santos said that it is important to “formulate a national policy for managing tourist beaches, to grow the sector and to preserve the environment”.
Santos highlighted the fact that 170 cruise ships docked at the port of Cartagena, Santa Marta and San Andres, representing an increase of 40% compared to 2009.
The president notes that Colombia “has the necessary conditions to enter the global competition as a tourist destination”.