Tourism is booming in Colombia according to new figures that show a 10% increase in foreign visitors and a 19% rise in income from travel so far this year.
Speaking at a forum to mark World Tourism Day, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Tourism Sergio Diaz-Grandados announced the latest DAS statistics showed 1,066,709 foreigners visited Colombia in the first half of 2011, up from 963,685 in the same period last year.
The largest proportion of visitors was from the U.S, with 225,103 people, followed by visitors from neighboring countries Venezuela and Ecuador. However, the biggest increase in visitors was from Brazil, which saw a 51% increase, followed by Chile and Canada.
The surge in visitors also led to a sharp increase in income. According to the minister, travel and transport generated $781 million in foreign currency in the first trimester of 2011, up from $655 million last year.
Diaz-Grandados also announced the increase in tourism had helped fuel a hotel construction boom and expansion in air travel.
According to the minister, by the end of the year 3,213 new hotel rooms will have been built in 26 construction projects around the country. This will take the total figure to 15,448 rooms over the period of 2004-2011.
He added Colombia had also expanded four air routes in 2011, improving both national and international connections.
The minister said, “we need to give proper attention to tourism, which is why the government is committed to getting Colombia to offer world class tourism.”
He added the country was getting closer to the government target of 4 million foreign visitors and $4 billion in foreign exchange from tourism a year by 2014.