The amount of tourists visiting Colombia almost doubled since 2010, according to the Administrative Department of National Statistics (DANE).
DANE reported that the number of foreigners and Colombians living abroad visiting the Andean country rose from 2.6 million in 2010 to 5.09 million in 2016.
Bogota claimed almost half of last years visitors, with 46.8% of travelers visiting the capital. The Atlantic region was found to be the second most popular destination, offering plenty of beaches and port towns, including Cartagena, known for its UNESCO world heritage fortress and old town.
The region of Antioquia came third, while also showing the highest growth in tourism, increasing on 2015’s numbers by 24%. This was attributed to the four distinct components available for tourists: nature, culture, patrimony and events.
Tourism is fast becoming a pillar of Colombia’s economy, sustaining a growing numbers of travel and adventure companies as well as hotel and restaurant businesses.
Spurred on by the sector’s dramatic growth, the government has launched the “100 actions in 500 days” initiative.
The program seeks to employ strategies that will make Colombia the most desirable destination in South America, focusing on eight core ideals that include training, education and infrastructure, according to El Espectador.
Security will also be a focus of the initiative, as Colombia’s police division dedicated to tourism will grow from 918 officers to 1300 by the end of 2017.
The ongoing peace process between Colombia’s government and the Marxist-inspired FARC rebels has received a lot of positive publicity in the international media over the past year or so.
Last year President Juan Manuel Santos was recognized for his work by being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which put Colombia’s drive for peace further in the spotlight.
A host of international diplomats have visited the South American country over the course of the process and this year Colombia welcomed the presidents of France and Ireland, publicizing further that security is improving and it is a viable destination for travelers.
Colombia received more than 2.5 million foreign visitors in 2016, a 13% increase compared to the year before, according to the country’s Trade Ministry.
Visitors from the United States topped the list of visiting foreign nationals. The country brought nearly half a million visitors to the South American country.
Almost 400,000 Europeans, 350,000 Venezuelans and 180,000 Brazilians visited Colombia last year.
The majority of visitors, 58.5%, was male. However, as the country’s tourism offer slowly but surely diversifies, female foreign visitors grew as much as 16.6%.
This diversification was also regionally evident. Until last year, Bogota received more than half of the visitors. The capital city’s share as tourist recipient dropped to 46.8%.
The big winner was the Caribbean Bolivar province, home of tourist hotspot Cartagena, which saw its share rise to 14.2% of visits.
Antioquia, the province around Medellin, received 13.2% of the foreigners.
The vast majority of visitors came to Colombia for vacation. Corporate tourism dropped 1.1% while visitors coming to Colombia for medical procedures boomed with 37.6% more visitors than in 2015.
While tourism boomed, employment in the tourism sector did the opposite, it dropped 1.5 percentage point from 3.6% of all employment to a meager 2.2%.