This year’s unusually intense rainy season in Colombia has had a heavy impact on tourism over the Christmas period, hoteliers say.
In the coffee region, hotels are experiencing an increase in cancellations.
“We offer tourists hiking possibilities and rural and outdoor activities. Nobody wants these under torrential downpours like the ones we are currently experiencing,” said Jorge Gomez, director of Cotelco, a hotel association in Quindio.
The heavy rains have also damaged many of the country’s roads which makes it more difficult for tourists to reach their destinations. Work to repair damaged roads is expected to take up to five months. Two roads were closed in the coffee region due to rain this week.
Maria Alejandra Tamayo, director of Cotelco in Caldas said that hotels in this region experienced a wave of 30 to 60 cancellations in just one day.
Tamayo explained that “our attraction is the Nevado del Ruiz, but roads leading there have also been affected by the winter. We believe that tourism this year could be reduced by 20% this year. If the weather does not improve, the consequences for our tourism will be very serious.”
For the department of Meta, hoteliers expect less rain in January and Rudesindo Moreno, president of the Meta Cotelco Board, explained that “the decline in tourism comes from the tourists’ fear that the road to Llano is closed. Connectivity is a big problem for tourism in the region.”
Monica Solano, director of the Tourism Department in Meta, explained that “we are still selling the plains as a magical destination and paradise to discover.”
Floods and landslides have affected over 1.6 million people across the country.
The rainy season is expected to continue until mid-January 2011, extending through the holiday season, according to El Tiempo.